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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (2 April) . . Page.. 1263 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

But I know that the need for affordable housing is acute in all parts of our city. There are homeless people on the priority list for every region who cannot be housed, so I feel reluctant to support a motion that praises the government for selling dwellings in central Canberra on valuable land for a huge price and then replacing them at close to a 1:1 ratio with significantly cheaper dwellings in Tuggeranong. This reshuffling of stock is similar to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

I presume that the money left over from property sales in the inner south and inner north is going to expensive refurbishment of existing dwellings, but these dwellings should not have been allowed to run down so far in the first place. Management of the ACT stock of public housing has long been a disgrace, not only something that this government needs to take responsibility for, but something that the last government should definitely have been looking at.

The shortage of housing is a massive social problem that is not being seriously addressed by the ACT government. I hope that the budget we are waiting for in May will show the first signs of a real commitment to affordable housing, since government action to date has been confined to reviewing the problem.

I will be opposing this motion today, to express my very strong view that the government needs to do far more to tackle homelessness and housing-related poverty before the congratulations that this motion proposes will be in order.

MRS BURKE (4.28): I trust that negotiations and discussions on the state housing agreement and the subsidiary bilateral agreements are progressing well.

Mr Wood: No, they are not.

MRS BURKE: I am hoping, Minister. We are depending on you. We hope you will be battling hard for funding for the ACT. I am pleased to see on the ALP website that Labor supports housing that assists people in need and supports a culture of services responsive to people's needs.

Labor also believes that ACT residents on low incomes have the right to live in security, peace and dignity. That is the essence of article 11.1 of the International Covenant of Economic, Cultural and Social Rights. Some issues around that need highlighting and bringing to the fore, as Ms Dundas has said. This is a great start, Mr Hargreaves. We certainly need to keep bringing it to the fore. I appreciate your doing that.

Labor is planning to change the culture within ACT Housing so that it is required to focus more on the individual circumstances of its tenants. I applaud that. I am wondering how this plan is progressing, Minister, and how many ACT Housing tenants in this category have been consulted so far. It is always good to talk to the people. They are the ones able to advise us of their individual circumstances and needs.

I am concerned that Labor's policy states that it will support and resource the community housing sector, including through the development of a peak for community housing that can work with the sector to develop policy, management and other skills; and will examine other means to increase community housing, including alternative financing models. What a shame the government transferred $10 million away from the sector.

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