Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1625 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
their tenancy agreements. It is a motion that calls on the minister to do his job. That is fair enough. I had no doubt that the minister was -
Mr Wood: Doing his job well.
MS DUNDAS: The minister was doing his job, yes. I had no doubt that that was the case, so I was surprised to see this motion on the notice paper. The debate today has gone off the track somewhere as to what this motion is trying to do. I would suggest that, if there is a particular area that needs to be addressed with regard to how the tenancy agreements are enforced or written, or the role of ACT Housing in settling disputes, maybe the motion needed to be targeted more towards that so that we could have an informed debate about particular problems.
But, in terms of the work that ACT Housing is doing and in terms of the work that the minister is doing, I understand and appreciate that Housing is a difficult area and I believe that they are working hard to address the problems that are being faced by a number of people in our community. I will say that they could be doing more. I will always say that they could be doing more. That is a debate that we will have at a later stage, possibly in the context of the budget.
In terms of the debate that has gone on today, just to repeat, we do need to be careful of how we handle ACT public tenants. Many do have lots of problems in their lives and we need to see both sides of the coin. Eviction, stereotyping people, pushing them out into the corners can exacerbate problems and not lead to the resolutions that we are looking for where everybody has a roof over their head and is able to escape the poverty trap in which so many people in the ACT community are caught.
MR CORNWELL (11.59): I will not take up a lot of the Assembly's time. I support Ms Dundas' comment that this debate seems to have got off the rails a little. The minister spoke about the previous government selling off housing stock and Mrs Burke's comments being an attack on public housing. Neither of those statements had anything to do with the motion before the house. The motion is quite specific. Mrs Burke is simply trying to get some sort of justice for the 99.98 per cent of public housing tenants who are decent, upright citizens, who pay their rent regularly, who behave themselves, and who look after their properties.
We all know that there is a very small, a minute, number of people who cause problems. They do not necessarily have to be drug addicts. There are complex social problems out there. The minister would be aware that I have written to him recently on two matters-one in Belconnen and the other one in north Canberra-concerning complaints about the behaviour of Housing Trust tenants and these complaints have been made against them by other Housing Trust tenants. All that Mrs Burke is doing is asking that something be done to correct this problem.
Mr Wood: It's not what she's asking; it's what she's saying.
MR CORNWELL: Let me say that we are asking that something be done about this problem. Ms Tucker made some interesting observations about the social problems that perhaps are causing this antisocial behaviour. I think that her remarks should be taken aboard and considered. I know that these problems exist elsewhere in the