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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 865 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

We have had a Clayton's consultation this year-there is no doubt about that. If this is the best the government can do to cherish the views of the community, then genuine consultation is surely dead in the water.

This has been noticed by the community and, I trust, not quickly forgotten. Labor may indeed oppose proper pre-budget consultation. However, this committee wishes to inform the Assembly in a loud, clear voice that we believe pre-budget consultation with the community is appropriate, desirable and profitable-and had better continue.

The government front bench may wish to shut out the voice of the community when it comes to budget time, but the rest of us do not. As already noted by the chair, the committee received a good number of submissions. They were well presented, and contained a consistent theme of problems which sections of the community experience accessing affordable housing.

The majority of submissions expressed a strong desire for the budget to address, as a priority, the current housing situation. The availability of secure, affordable housing is critical. When lacking, this can impact on every other aspect of a person's life.

A quick glance at the current waiting list could tempt a person into thinking that there was an acute lack of public housing in Canberra. Of course, as we all know, that is only partially true. Canberra has about 12,000 dwellings in public housing stock-roughly 12 per cent of all the housing in Canberra. It appears this is one of the highest percentages, if not the highest, in Australia.

Canberra has always had a housing crisis, in one form or another. This has at its root the requirement to build an instant-Would you like to speak, Mr Quinlan? I can stop, for you to speak.

Mr Quinlan: Go ahead and stop. Stop whenever you like!

MRS CROSS: Thank you so much. The sole purpose of that was to be the nation's capital.

The first public servants lived in tents in a sheep paddock down by what is now Lake Burley Griffin. Subsequent waves of public servants were attracted to Canberra only by being allocated public housing with their jobs.

In this respect, public housing has had enormous social impact on the city. Some of the people allocated public housing already worked for the government in Melbourne. Their forced transfer to Canberra won them a house, without waiting. Others came because of promotion. They lived in government flats, and were forced to endure years without their families.

Those public servants who brought their families, who did not have to pre-qualify for public housing, more often than not lived like nomads, between hostels, while they waited their turn. Prior to the mid-1950s, those who came as employees of the private sector faced even greater difficulties than public servants in obtaining government housing.

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