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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1262 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

another one in its place so we can blend public housing tenants into the community, we can do that in Tuggeranong as easily as we can do it anywhere else.

I fully expect members for Ginninderra to bounce out of their box and say, "Don't forget Belconnen"or "Don't forget Gungahlin."Good on them. That is what we are elected to do. I am after equitable treatment for the constituents in Tuggeranong. I am very confident that the policies that ACT Housing have developed and are now implementing will provide that.

I would like to record my appreciation of the current minister for the assistance he has afforded the constituents I have placed on his doormat-quite a lot of them. My statistics show that over the five years I have been here about 35 per cent of my constituent inquiries have had something to do with housing. Half have been about housing allocations, priority housing, swapping with other people and waiting lists. The reception I have received from ACT Housing, thanks to the concern the minister has imparted to his officers, has been in stark contrast to the reception I received when I was in opposition, when I had to drag the minister and the department kicking and screaming to the altar of concern for people's welfare. Under this minister it has been a breath of fresh air. I appreciate that very much. I would encourage the minister to continue with his policies.

Spare a thought for the old and the grey amongst us. One day we might be in dire need of older persons accommodations in the fair suburbs or Tuggeranong ourselves. Provide older persons accommodation roughly in line with the growth in the number of older people who are finding that God's own garden is the best place to live.

MS DUNDAS (4.24): Affordable housing has become one of Australia's most critical social issues. Anglicare's State of the Family report, which was released just two weeks ago, identified the acute shortage of affordable housing as the chief drain on social services and the chief cause of entrenched poverty in Australia. This is just one in a long stream of reports that we have seen that have identified housing as a key part of breaking the poverty cycle.

Here in the ACT, where house rents are the highest in Australia and vacancy rates are the lowest, we have a bigger crisis than most other states and territories. The government has pledged to increase the number of ACT Housing dwellings by 1.4 per cent this financial year. This follows a decline in the number of public housing dwellings during the first financial year that Labor was in office.

I agree that we need public housing spread across Canberra, including Tuggeranong but also Gungahlin and Belconnen, because everyone benefits if low-income people can stay connected with their community, their family and other social networks.

I appreciate that the demand for affordable housing in Tuggeranong has risen far faster than the number of available dwellings, so I support an increase in the proportion of public and community housing dwellings in this region. I also support the increase in the number of dwellings for accommodating older people in Tuggeranong and across Canberra, because the proportion of older Canberrans will continue to rise.

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