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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 1 Hansard (20 February) . . Page.. 335 ..

MRS BURKE: Mr Wood, I listened to you in quietness. Please give me the same courtesy.

Mr Wood: I spoke accurately.

MRS BURKE: Perhaps this is down to the government process as referred to earlier today.

Mr Wood: Look at what Bill Stefaniak and Brendan Smyth did, for heaven's sake!

MRS BURKE: On a point of order, Mr Speaker!

Mrs Dunne: We are not talking about history, we are talking about you.

MRS BURKE: Another question I have is, why is ACT Housing spending a total of $4.5 million on fire safety upgrades for these properties, when they are either going to be sold soon or are past their economic life?

Mr Wood: You are way out!

MRS BURKE: If I am, I stand corrected. Why is ACT Housing spending this money, when their own advice states that upgrading these properties cannot be justified? My colleague, Mr Smyth, has already questioned the use of Treasurer's advance for fire safety, and I ask my own question. Why has nearly half of the Treasurer's advance been spent on upgrades for these properties?

Mr Speaker, the MPI covers an important issue. We do need good public housing stock which meets the needs of the tenants. What we don't need is a government that is wasting money, putting in good money after bad, wasting time and wasting opportunities to fix the problems when they arise-not years later.

MS DUNDAS (4.21): Without adequate housing, a person's chance for attaining good health, education, employment and happiness is extremely poor. The disease outbreaks in Australia in previous centuries were directly attributable to inadequate housing. Many mental health problems suffered today are attributable to inadequate housing. A right to shelter is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements Held in 1996 led to the Istanbul Declaration and Habitat Agenda. Housing rights are central to the Habitat Agenda. The aim of the Istanbul Declaration is to create a world where everyone can live in a safe home with the promise of a decent life of dignity, good health, safety, happiness and hope.

Having established that a right to housing is a human right, the question is, who should be making sure that every person has the opportunity to enjoy this right? There is nothing in the United Nations wording implies that everyone is entitled to free housing, but instead the assumption is that everyone should be able to find adequate housing that they can afford.

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