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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 12 Hansard (13 November) . . Page.. 3523 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

You will notice the board of Totalcare change over time; you might notice other changes. But there wasn't much point in getting the commission of audit to tell us what we already knew and what we were already acting on. We were already acting on Totalcare. You have seen that we have already closed down the quarry exercise and stopped that haemorrhage. We will work on the rest. We will try to make it work and save people's livelihoods, but it is a major exercise.

MR CORNWELL: I have a supplementary question. Treasurer, in view of your comments, why did you announce the establishment of this commission of audit, on 15 January this year, to incorporate Actew, ActewAGL, CTEC and Totalcare Industries, as well as those still under scrutiny, which we presume have jobs involved-namely, ACTION, ACT Forests and the Australian International Hotel School? If you weren't going to look at the first four I mentioned, why did you put them in the commission of audit on 15 January 2002?

MR QUINLAN: Simply, as I put it, Mr Cornwell: I was going to, but now I am not-for reasons just given.

Affordable housing

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Safe, secure, affordable and appropriate housing is essential to many things, including health, education and employment. Two weeks ago you attended a housing ministers conference to discuss the negotiation of a new Commonwealth/state housing agreement. What was the Commonwealth's offer, and how will this impact on the ACT?

MR WOOD: We haven't formally got the offer, but it was discussed at that meeting. The draft offer, as proposed by Senator Vanstone, will not solve Australia's housing crisis and, most especially, will not solve the ACT's housing crisis. I am pretty cautious in the words I use, and I have been using the word "crisis"to describe the circumstances. When, of all people, Mr Howard starts talking about housing, you know there is a serious problem.

Under the current Commonwealth/state housing agreement, each state and territory must enter into a separate bilateral agreement with the Commonwealth outlining the housing assistance to be provided out of Commonwealth funds and its own funds over the four years of the agreement.

Instead of rising, as you would expect in these circumstances, Commonwealth funding to the ACT under the new agreement will fall from $24.6 million this year to $18.5 million in 2003-04. Modest increases by way of indexation in subsequent years will be swamped by the loss of nearly $6 million per year in GST compensation. That is a major concern for the ACT.

That GST compensation, you may recall, was an acknowledgment of the extra costs imposed on housing by the imposition of the GST. This loss will significantly impact on our housing operations. ACT revenue, as I understand, will break even by about 2006-07, at which time we will be arguing with colleagues about putting that into the ACT

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