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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4656 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

the money in a different way. (Extension of time granted.) Could we have brand new construction of the same amount and type of properties for the same money? I urge the government to really consider this again and to consider retaining the whole as public housing. It is an investment now, but public housing truly is an investment in our healthy community.

Can you justify the impact on the waiting list and the human beings that list represents or can you demonstrate that the cost of replacing the equivalent range of accommodation at Currong elsewhere is substantially less than the cost of moving everyone, demolishing and losing this asset?

I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MRS BURKE (11.57): I am interested to see that Ms Tucker has brought on this motion this morning. There has been much discussion in this place about the Currong apartments. It is a very difficult issue. I, of course, have been very active-Mr Wood alluded to this yesterday in this place-in supporting the people at Currong apartments, who are uncertain about what is going to happen to them.

There has been much debate and conjecture around the future of the apartments. Members will know that I lobbied the minister very hard over the issue of making a decision about Currong's future. I am not sure why this matter has come to the fore now. Like Ms Tucker, I have been lobbied by many people. I notice that point (2) of Ms Tucker's motion refers to reports on options. I have a list of the many reports that have been prepared.

I cannot support, and the Liberal opposition will not be supporting, the motion. However, I do understand where Ms Tucker is coming from in respect of the human involvement in all of this. I had been asking and pressuring the minister for months prior to his decision to reconsider and review the evidence before him. I have already asked for that. I have asked time and again that a final decision should not be made on the Currong apartments. We need to keep Currong on-line to preserve our housing stock, given the trauma and the beating that our housing stock has had because of the bushfires, with some 80 properties being affected. Also, our ageing housing stock is becoming an increasing problem. The reality is that Currong apartments is an old and, in many cases, dangerous multi-unit complex.

This is a difficult decision. One government can bag another for what they did or did not do. However, I agree with point (1) of Ms Tucker's motion. I am disappointed in the minister because if the 31/2 thousand people who are already on our waiting lists are not to be adversely affected, there needs to be an increase in the number of public housing properties in the ACT to cover the people we will have to move.

My big bone of contention is that the Burnie Court site is still sitting vacant, with nothing happening on it. We are now two years down the track and we could have done something about that. I agree with point (1) that there could have been better planning. Some of the process has been flawed. No government can afford to put people at risk. We have an increasingly ageing population in Currong apartments. We have people with complex medical needs and it is near-on impossible to get a stretcher into the lifts.

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