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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (7 May) . . Page.. 1675 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Of course, I should also mention the magnificent efforts of the SAS operating in the western and northern theatres of Iraq. They drew great praise for their thoroughly professional service and they received probably the ultimate accolade from President Bush, who described them as the best soldiers in the world. That comes from a person who is president of the county that has largest force in that conflict.

Of course, the RAAF has received great praise for the ground support missions it has flown. The competence of our servicemen and women was epitomised by the young pilot who decided of his own volition not to conduct an air strike because he was not clear about the danger to civilians.

Mr Pratt: Very professional.

MR STEFANIAK: It was very professional. Thank you, Mr Pratt. I think that exemplifies the role of Australian servicemen and women in this conflict. Although the troubles there are still continuing, I certainly hope that there will not be any fatalities and that they will all come home safely. I congratulate them on a job well done.


MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for the Arts and Heritage and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.13), in reply: Mr Deputy Speaker, I guess I am pleased that Mrs Burke is having something to say about housing, because this is a refreshing change for the opposition, the destroyers of much of public housing. So it is a good thing if we have someone over there who is actively advocating for housing. I now wait for the day when she comes into here and announces a new Liberal policy about the assets that we hold.

I remember the meeting of state and territory ministers for housing when Senator Vanstone walked in and said to us all, "Well, I've got good news for you-we are actually giving you more money."The rather nervous state and territory ministers perked up a little and said, "This is better than we thought it was going to be."We got the announcement that, yes, Senator Vanstone's department would be providing, after a year's pause, indexation-the rather normal thing, but extra money. But then came the bad news, that the other agency of government that handles the GST funding was taking off money. So we got a little bit on the one side and a lot off the other side. That is the background to that story. So, yes, it is true that over quite a deal of time it may be that we get, through Commonwealth disbursements to the territory, GST funds.

I heard Mr Quinlan yesterday giving a very good answer to a question about the GST; that we are going to depend on the Commonwealth to maintain the agreement and all the support that was offered to the states in that. It will be some time before we can see if that is happening and if there is money coming in sufficient order for ACT Housing to be reimbursed. At this stage I am not particularly optimistic, but time will tell. In the meantime, I await the new Liberal Party policy on public housing in Canberra.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Assembly adjourned at 5.15 pm.

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