Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 1379 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
Mrs Dunne said it would be a long, hard job. It is not something you do overnight. There is a lot of work to be done on this, and we are working on it already. I will certainly come back and report, but I will be reporting progress. I may do it more than once, and I will certainly do it in the next session. But it is a process that requires a long period of time, so I am a bit offended by Ms Tucker saying "cavalier", "picking over", "avoiding". No, I am determined to see that we get-
Mrs Burke: Let us know how you feel about this, Minister. It's simple. In writing.
MR SPEAKER: Order!
MR WOOD: You don't listen very much to what is said. That's your problem.
MR SPEAKER: Order, members!
MR WOOD: Ms Dundas also said that this will sit on a shelf. It won't. It is being worked on right now. It is difficult because there are so many issues, among which many are agreed and have to be organised and managed as best they can be through the system. That is what we will do. I am accepting the amendment. Criticise my reporting when it comes down, if you will. We will be working through-to say it for the umpteenth time-as many of these issues as we can accommodate.
The issue goes beyond the scope of this government. It is the responsibility of the private sector as well and, indeed, the community sector very much wants to get involved. It would be great if we could get some help from the federal government. Mr Howard made a statement some time ago. I think he was going to set up a task force or have a conference or something.
But I go to meetings where his housing minister is and, gee, you don't get an ounce of sympathy out of there. She is flat out even staying for an hour of the meetings. There is a meeting coming up in Brisbane soon, and I understand she is going to put in only a brief appearance. I wish we had more interest and maybe a bit of financial support from federal government. Indeed, they have taken $6 million from the budget.
When Mr Howard introduced the GST, it had a very severe impact on every sector. The impact on ACT Housing was something over $7 million. We were getting something like $5.9 million in compensation. Now that has gone. There is no sympathy from that level; I wish there were. I will be back up in Brisbane at the end of next week for the next ministers' meeting on housing, and I am not confident it will go better than other ministers' meetings as we work towards the next Commonwealth/state and territory housing agreement.
Public housing is an essential component of any system, and we are trying to find more money for it. The government got criticised because it found some money when it absolutely needed to for fire safety last year. But we will pursue and spend every cent we can.
The task force report provides some arguments, based in many cases on precedent in other jurisdictions, for how a variety of fiscal measures can be utilised by the