Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4659 ..
MR WOOD (continuing):
judge the overall government intention with the precise number from any one property, in this case Currong.
In fact, I would tell Ms Tucker that when tenants start their move, when they move from Currong to their better homes, the number of properties will exceed the fire depleted number as at 28 October 2003, the date that is contained in Ms Tucker's motion. It will exceed the fire depleted number. Really, 28 October was not a good date to pick because at that time the number was low due to the loss of 88 properties. The replacement program is well under way. By June 2004 the number of properties will be at the level they were when we came to government, or better.
As I will show, the government has thought long and hard about Currong and the welfare of its tenants. I think it is important to make it clear that Currong, with all its problems, is not a long-term option, or even a medium-term option, without the investment of considerable funds-funds beyond what is feasible or even proper. It is not appropriate either for tenants to continue to live in Currong beyond the relatively short term. Therefore, something needs to be done and, in considering its options, the government sensibly and responsibly has sought the best long-term solutions to housing the tenants from Currong.
When I wrote to the tenants on 27 October this year I indicated that their relocation would occur over the next 12 months. These tenants continue to have the same rights to public housing as they currently enjoy-whether where they are or somewhere better, they have the same rights. Any decision to vacate a complex of 212 units cannot be implemented overnight if a proper assessment of existing tenant needs and requests is to be fully and carefully considered and delivered. It is therefore not necessary to have 212 extra dwellings available right now while tenants are still making decisions and choices regarding which home they wish to move to. After all, the occupied units in Currong are still being used for public housing while decisions are being taken.
Ms Tucker's motion calls on the government to ensure that no residents who would prefer to stay in Currong should be relocated until an extra 212 dwellings are added to the public housing stock. If these tenants have found appropriate-and, I have no doubt, better-alternative housing that suits their needs, why should we delay them from moving? As I have said, stock numbers will return to the level they were when we came to office.
Contrary to Ms Tucker's motion, I believe it would be an irresponsible use of other public housing as it became available if the government were to, say, artificially keep these emerging properties vacant and potentially delay all allocations until we had 200 extra dwelling units available all at once. Tenants should be given the opportunity to move from Currong to better accommodation. Surely it is far more sensible to allow tenants to move as soon as practical after suitable alternative accommodation is available. It is difficult to understand what Ms Tucker is trying to achieve with that part of her motion.
Ms Tucker has also mentioned the stress on the waiting list. With the clear indication that our stock numbers will remain consistent, there is no medium, long-term or perhaps even short-term stress being added to that list.