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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (26 August) . . Page.. 3173 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

experience has shown that the doomsayers, the knockers, the lily livered, those without conviction are almost invariably wrong. One of them is: we'll be swamped; there'll be a tidal wave of litigation; the courts will be flooded.

I think underlying it all, of course, is: horror, horror, horror, people who traditionally have their rights denied them, people whose rights are often trammelled-namely, those at the edge, the dispossessed, the homeless, indigenous people, people with mental illness, people living with a disability, criminals-will, shock, horror, stand up and seek to assert their rights. Isn't that a horrible prospect? Isn't that a horrible prospect for the Liberals, the conservatives and the rednecks that people with mental illnesses, people with disabilities, people that are black, people perhaps that are Muslim, might actually dare to assert their rights; they might stand up and say, "Listen, I have rights too"?

Mr Stefaniak: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: he is not even being concise now. He is breaching 118 (a) and he is starting to breach 118 (b) too.

MR SPEAKER: I think you were just about to come to the end of your response.

MR STANHOPE: I was. I had concluded my answer, thank you, Mr Speaker.

Public housing rents

MRS CROSS: My question is to the minister responsible for housing, Mr Wood. Minister, ACT Housing has recently increased the rents payable by tenants, and some tenants have found these rent increases to be significant and very difficult to budget for. A number of my constituents have indicated to me that people who are not entitled to a rental rebate, as both partners work, are finding that the system of calculating on the gross income of the family and not the net income is causing real budgetary problems. Some of these constituents have to find an extra $100 a fortnight, which is difficult. These same constituents would like to purchase their own house but are unable to do so as it is this $100 they were saving towards their own purchase.

Minister, are you aware that these people are being disadvantaged by your system, and will you consider changing the system to calculate the rents on net income to help people save to purchase their own home?

MR WOOD: Mr Speaker, there has been much discussion about the issue of whether payment should be based on gross income or net income. I think payment has always been, or certainly it has been for a very long time, established on the basis of gross income. I have examined, looked at and discussed this matter and I assess that it is fair and reasonable to do that. Sometimes houses have quite a number of income earners living in them, and it is fair to do that.

I do not believe they are disadvantaged. In fact, by virtue of the fact that they are living in an ACT Housing property they are significantly advantaged because when rental rebates apply no person need pay more than 25 per cent of household gross income on rent. I think there are many in the private sector who would welcome a deal like that.

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