Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 4447 ..
Ms Tucker: Market rent.
MR WOOD: Market rent is related to income.
At 5.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly having been put and negatived, the debate was resumed.
MR WOOD: People put themselves into that category and then they are hit with the market rent. I think that that is fair. We had debate here at the time of the former government's restructure and Ms Tucker's housing committee work on whether we should require the market renters to move on, to vacate their premises, or whether we should let them stay. We have said that they have to stay. They have security of tenure, going back to those social goals. In fact, moving into the private sector simply takes up stock there anyway. I think that that is a reasonable thing.
A practical point is that less than 20 per cent of the people contribute 45 per cent or more of ACT Housing's income. I have had this debate in other quarters. I still want that money because we are desperately short of money; there is no doubt about that. We pay all rates and taxes; we pay everything. We pay to the Commonwealth government $7 million or $8 million a year for an outstanding loan. We pay our way. We pay $53 million in rental rebates. Every cent we get is precious and that is how we handle that issue.
Mr Quinlan: I'm glad I was here to hear this.
MR WOOD: I am saying it especially for you. I am delighted you stayed. Mr Quinlan and I have had these debates before. I must finish; I will not get another extension. Ms Tucker wants us to find a way to use the value of the stock to expand the availability of public housing. If I could use the $2.2 billion asset that we have, a wonderful size asset, to leverage-a lovely word-some other money, I would, but I have not come up with a way yet. We do not generate enough money out of our rents and other income to be able to pay off anything we do. We have had all sorts of experts looking at this issue and we have not given up. We will take your advice and keep on with that.
I have to say in conclusion that I think ACT Housing is one of the most difficult areas to manage. It pays its way in every respect in this community. It has inadequate money from its own resources to do all that we would want it to do. That has been the case since the days well before self-government. Once the Commonwealth government stopped providing houses for incoming public servants-it used to provide almost 100 per cent of them, which gradually diminished over the years-once it got out of that market, it has never in the time since self-government put money back into it. We inherited a housing stock that was substantially run down and we have been working assiduously ever since in difficulty to manage that stock. As Ms Tucker says, public housing has to meet our social goals. That is the key to it. We have to see that the money we spend on housing meets the needs of society.
MS DUNDAS (5.04): Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to speak to this motion.