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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4661 ..

MRS CROSS (12.15): Mr Speaker, I thank Ms Tucker for raising this issue today. I find it interesting that the government has often commented on the state of public housing in the ACT and the need to increase the number of properties and the diversity of types of those properties.

Even though we are told that we have a shortage of accommodation for lower income people in this city, the prospect of demolishing the large complex of Currong flats or apartments has been floated and is obviously part of the plan. Currong flats is a very solid structure, close to all amenities, and it seems to me ideal for conversion to older persons units or, in fact, a combination of older persons accommodation and accommodation for others.

I do wonder why the government would consider demolishing instead of conversion. This structure could be revamped, the central heating could be re-established, the lifts could be renewed and the whole building could be secured so that older people could live there with a sense of safety. The external area provides enough room for developing a pleasant outside area which would add to the residential amenity for the residents.

Apart from the waste of such a structure, it is very poor administration to demolish the building when we are so short of accommodation for the public sector. I will support Ms Tucker's motion, and I urge the government to reconsider the status of Currong.

MS DUNDAS (12.16): Mr Speaker, I congratulate Ms Tucker for once again bringing the matter of ACT public housing to the attention of the Assembly. Today we are dealing specifically with the government's recent decision to sell off Currong apartments for redevelopment. I believe this motion highlights the ongoing issue of housing affordability in the territory and the ACT government's inadequate response thus far.

We have talked about this issue repeatedly in the Assembly but we have not seen the level of response we would have hoped for. The closure and sale of Currong apartments represents a continuing practice by successive ACT governments of cannibalising ACT housing stock. A large complex is demolished and sold off, with the proceeds going to buy new housing properties, usually less expensive properties further out in the suburbs.

However, the investment in new properties does not replace the number of dwellings that were previously available. Even with some additional funds being injected into ACT Housing for acquiring new properties, the number of public and community housing dwellings is continuing to decrease over the long term. It is my understanding that we have not yet reached the number of public and community housing dwellings that were available before Burnie Court was demolished and we now see the government proceeding to do the same with Currong apartments.

Ms Tucker's motion calls for the demolition to be deferred until the level of public housing, as it was at 28 October 2003, has been increased by 212 dwellings. I recognise that this statement is a minimum level for judging when existing housing stock should be demolished.

I have heard the government make similar statements that the goal of public housing policy is simply to maintain the number of dwellings that are managed by public and community housing agencies. I note that the baseline for this appears to be the already

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