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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (25 November) . . Page.. 4572 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

Ms Tucker and more recently, since her arrival here, Mrs Burke have been focusing on. Housing is certainly on the agenda nationally because it is now pretty much in a state of crisis around Australia as a result of the rapid increase in the price of acquiring a property. So, yes, it is very much on the agenda. I think Ms Tucker said that I have been talking about it for quite a while. I certainly have been and action is coming.

Mrs Burke said that the government is chipping away. Well, yes, we are. I acknowledge and I modestly claim that we are chipping away because this is such a difficult area on which to have an impact. Mrs Burke said let us have some action. I believe that I will be in a position before the end of the year-I am not in that position today-to make some more significant announcements. If you have been following the process during the year you will note that there has been-and I will acknowledge it-a chipping away in respect of rental bonds, access and the removal of the requirement of two weeks rent in advance. That is what I call chipping away and I guess these are significant steps. But I hope that before the year is out there will be more significant statements.

Mrs Burke said that housing is essential if people are to have stability and make a proper contribution to society. We know that. Every day we experience cases of people whose lives are in a mess because they do not have the security of housing and a roof over their heads. Mind you, sometimes their lives are in a mess before that, too. But it is essential that they have a roof over their heads. I agree with Mrs Burke that all members of the community must be able to access the housing they need, and that is, of course, the mammoth task that all governments around Australia face.

Ms Tucker made a considered speech. She said that an increase in the stock of public housing is essential. Well, I would like to agree with her. Maybe one day we will be in a position where I can say there is capital to increase the stock. My commitment in coming into this position was to aim to maintain the level of stock.

I will say where I stand: I think it is important that we increase the stock of public housing because the only housing that people in the lower two quintiles-and we focused on quintiles recently-have a chance of obtaining is public housing. They do not have the income, the assets or the ability to move into their own accommodation. Maybe some of them are already in it and they can sustain that but others who are in the lower two-fifths of the population of this territory who want to move from a position of having no housing into housing will need public housing. It is as simple as that and it is also simply the case that we are not able at this time to provide it all.

So, yes, Ms Tucker, I acknowledge that we do not have a strategy at this stage to increase the public housing stock. Maybe we might be able to do something about that as we continue with our tasks. To simplify the position, as Ms Tucker did, you increase the stock of public or community housing or you do some tweaking with friends, and that has not been too successful.

Yes, Ms Tucker, I do challenge the assertion that we have enough public housing. It is said to me from time to time that we have got more public housing than anywhere else in Australia; that we have got twice or more than twice what most states have, so we are in a good position. Well, I deny that. I challenge that assertion any time it is made, and I heard it made recently. If we have to wait for the right market conditions, affordability

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