Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1613 ..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
tenants are being unreasonably forced to endure living hell on a daily basis, often both day and night. When will the minister deal with the problem and look after the majority?
I would suggest that once the minister has seen and heard first hand, then and only then will he begin to acknowledge and understand that these are very real and urgent problems and, hopefully, start to address them as a matter of expediency. The minister must understand that many tenants are being subjected to a reign of terror built largely through fear and intimidation. So bad is the problem that I am unable to provide this Assembly with actual names and addresses of the large number of tenants who have contacted me over some three to four months. They have specifically asked not to be named or identified for fear of reprisal and retribution. Please do not tell me that I am overreacting or exaggerating. I dare you to say that to those tenants who are experiencing this nightmare existence.
What would I do? I want to be part of the solution, a position I have maintained and I will always maintain. This should not be a political issue per se. I will keep going until I see some changes. I will work from the ground up. Parties on both sides must adhere to the tenancy act or suffer the consequences. The government must lead the way here. I am calling for a combined government, community and multidepartment approach. Our housing tenants deserve better and the problems are only increasing and worsening. What will it take? What has to happen before we see some action? You must act now, Minister. People are suffering and getting hurt out there as a result of your lack of leadership and inaction.
Again, the minister asserted, quite incorrectly, on WIN TV on 5 May that I was condemning all Housing tenants. Mr Wood, our Housing tenants are not that stupid. They can clearly see what you are trying to do. Please credit them with having some intelligence. The minister needs to open his eyes and take a good, long, hard look at precisely what is going on in his areas of responsibility. He is right on one count: a few are spoiling it for the rest. Minister, it only takes a few. We are talking about a transient group of people who move from one place to another to play their games of deals, threats, intimidation and fear.
Until a multipronged approach is taken to addressing the problems that do exist in these complexes, the rights of the law-abiding majority of tenants, around 11,500, will continue to be neglected. It is time to work together to find the solutions, to move beyond the rhetoric and empower the communities that do exist within, for example, ACT Housing complexes and to allow them to be able to go comfortably about their own business without enduring unreasonable and unjustified acts of antisocial behaviour.
Some complexes are trying their best to present solutions and stir up their neighbours to take a positive approach to this serious issue. They tell me that it is a little like pushing a barrow uphill, but they are prepared to give it a go with the underpinning support of government. Yes, it is difficult, but it is not impossible. Governments need to ensure that people are given every assistance possible to improve their situations in life. We are letting people down right now. That is not good enough; it is not acceptable.