Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4658 ..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
period. What I am saying is that, instead of wasting all that money, I believe the government could have made a decision in a far more expeditious way.
Just over half of existing tenants responded and many people who contacted my office believed the survey exercise was a fait accompli. In fact, on that basis many did not respond, and that might interest the minister. They just threw their hands up in the air and said, "Well, that's it. There's no point."
Many tenants felt patronised and bribed by the issuing of the $5 scratchie card. Some tenants called my office to express alarm that a government would encourage such behaviour, particularly amongst some tenants with gambling addictions. Obviously, Mr Speaker, this is an action which the government fully condoned. Indeed, the government scoffed at the Liberal opposition's objection and stance on this issue.
However, all of this aside, the government have now made this decision. They have decided that, in light of the many reports completed on Currong since 1998, they will be looking to redevelop on the Currong apartment site and the current tenants will be moved out over a period of 12 months.
I do not think it is appropriate that the minister should reconsider refurbishing the Currong apartments. We could have debates back and forth on this, but I think sensibly and practically that would be throwing good money after bad. We need to move on. We need to make sure that we can replenish the stock. We need to rehouse those people in a timely and appropriate way. The minister knows I am watching like a hawk what is happening there, and I have his assurances that that will happen smoothly.
People are still very worried and concerned. As the number of apartments decrease, the personal security and safety of the tenants are in question. The minister must be very aware that the people left in that place are feeling very vulnerable.
Again, I understand where Ms Tucker was coming from. I have tried to fight very hard for the people at Currong apartments, but I guess the practical side of me would have to say that all the evidence before us seems to indicate that continuing to pour money into this complex is not an option open to us. The Liberals did spend money on the apartments, and I realise that.
I thank members for their time and I thank them for allowing me to contribute to the debate.
MR WOOD (Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, and Minister for Arts and Heritage) (12.06): Mr Speaker, let me state emphatically that the government will, at the very least, retain the overall level of public housing stock that existed at the time we were elected. Nothing has changed with that commitment.
The numbers are important to Ms Tucker, as they are to me. At any one time, the absolute numbers will, of course, fluctuate as properties are bought, sold, built or redeveloped. For example, there is currently a short-term drop whilst the houses lost in the January 2003 bushfires are being replaced. Therefore, it is not particularly helpful to