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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (3 May) . . Page.. 1473 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

former Labor government's fault. Some houses I have seen have not had a thing done to them in 30 years. Some houses that were built in the 70s are a disgrace, like the Melba flats. We have to pick up that problem.

But I say this: for some people who come into my office any roof over their head is a very considerable improvement to what they have now because they do not have anything now. If you want an example of how tough it is out there, I have the case of a 60-year-old woman with fused bones in her back who cannot bend, so she is sleeping in the bed while her 82-year-old mother sleeps on the floor. There are problems around that, but we have got to work to try to overcome some of these things.

Let us look at the number of houses that ACT Housing have. Let us review the policy of downsizing, difficult as it is to get repairs done and maintain acceptable homes when the income from rents does not provide the revenue to do that. I know the difficulties, but let us look at this problem of downsizing. Let us understand that there is a very significant problem of housing out there, and the public sector has a major role to play. I am not convinced that the budget has attended to that problem.

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (5.10), in reply: I will close the debate, Mr Speaker. I suppose I should thank members for their contributions to the debate. It was much as I would expect; that is, there was much criticism about the budget. I hark back to the headline in the Canberra Times yesterday, "Something for everybody". I do not think there was ever a budget devised that ever pleased an opposition.

Mr Woods: You praised our budgets.

MR HUMPHRIES: I do not think I did. I do not think I did, Mr Speaker, so I suppose I should not whinge.

Mr Wood: No, I withdraw that remark.

MR HUMPHRIES: I should not whinge about the reaction of people opposite, but I will deal with the substance of what has been said in a number of cases. I will start by observing that there has been a lot of discussion in the last few days, not so much in this debate, although there has been some, about the operating loss in 1995-96. Someone who had only come late to the debate said to me today, "Why is everyone talking about the 1995-96 budget in 2001-2002?" I said, "Well, that's a good question."

Mr Wood: You started it.

MR HUMPHRIES: Well, there was a one line reference in the budget speech to that financial year. It has become the issue. Mr Speaker, if you think about it, it is not surprising that some would want to talk more about the 1995-96 year than they would about 2001-02. I take that as a very perverse form of flattery. Indeed, Mr Speaker, the reality is that there is not very much to say about this budget which could be described fairly as biting criticism. Some of the criticism that has been made has been, I think, quite fairly, shot down in flames.

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