Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (26 November) . . Page.. 4663 ..
MS DUNDAS (continuing):
The more recent approach of trying to disperse public housing throughout the city is a commendable policy goal, but it should not be pursued at the expense of maintaining, or better still increasing, the social housing stock. I think we all realise that the Currong apartments is an ageing complex that has a poor reputation here in Canberra. The survey conducted of tenants shows the majority of tenants would be quite happy to move to other premises if offered the opportunity. However, we need to question the effect of moving tenants out into the suburbs or to facilities geographically removed from what they see as essential social services. I note that the proximity to services was listed in the tenants' survey as the greatest benefit of living at Currong.
We should not underestimate the need to locate public and community housing close to essential services like shops, health-care and public transport facilities. While housing is probably the most important method of alleviating poverty and disadvantage, it needs to be complemented by a cluster of other social services, and the provision of replacement housing that makes other services difficult to access may worsen social outcomes rather than improve them.
It was interesting to hear yesterday the Treasurer, in response to a question from Ms Tucker, state that the current high revenues of government should be spent on new government investment. Public and community housing presents the perfect opportunity for investment. Not only does public housing present opportunities for non-recurrent expenditure that will maintain its value to the territory, it increases the social supply of housing and assists in the fight against poverty. It is a win/win situation and it is a shame that the government has so far not chosen to invest its enormous surpluses in the worthy pursuit of housing stock.
MS MacDONALD (12.23): Mr Speaker, in responding to the motion we need to consider not only the physical state of the Currong flats but also whether the complex meets the needs of the tenants. It is clear that the Currong flats have a very limited economic life. However, it is also important to recognise that the apartments have had high rates of refusal by prospective tenants and a high rate of turnover-sometimes as high as 50 per cent in a year; and even in the current very tight private and public market, around 30 per cent of tenants are moving out each year.
The Allawah, Bega and Currong complexes contain a total of 440 public and community housing properties, which is an undesirable concentration of social housing and differs from the objective of having mixed public and private housing.
As an integral part of the government's decision on the future of the complex, an independent survey of tenants was undertaken by Purdon Associates. The survey was conducted in May of this year and involved a half-hour, face-to-face interview with tenants. The tenants were encouraged to participate, and 52 per cent of them did.
The composition of the Currong tenants is unusual, with a mixture of older, long-term tenants and much younger and short-term tenants. The tenant population includes approximately two-thirds male and one-third females, with 25 per cent of tenants having lived there for over 10 years and around two-thirds for less than five years. Those who participated in the survey were an older group of tenants than the average and had lived at Currong for longer than the average. Despite this, the survey found that 54 per cent of the respondents, or 58 tenants, were willing to move out of Currong; 37 per cent would