Page 495 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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Supplementary answers to questions without notice


MR SPEAKER: During the discussion about points of order in relation to a question taken by the minister for housing, there was some commentary by me and others on the standing order about who is entitled to answer questions. The Chief Minister need not feel constrained about answering any questions. I have had the time to consult parliamentary practice and, if it is his desire to answer questions or add to answers of ministers, he should not feel constrained.

MR STANHOPE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. If I might now clarify a point on that issue: I did want to take the opportunity at that time to add to an answer provided by the minister for housing to the supplementary question asked by Mrs Burke in relation to whether or not what I had said yesterday was true.

What I said yesterday was, in fact, the case, depending, I suppose, on how one wishes to manipulate what I said. Yesterday, I was asked whether the residents of the houses at Pierces Creek would have security of tenure. One of the issues that the ACT government is seeking to resolve is what will be the case when, not if, the displaced residents of Pierces Creek return to their homes. We wish them to have security of tenure, which means that we wish them to be able to purchase the houses that will be rebuilt for them.

The difficulty is, of course, that there is no leasehold at Pierces Creek—there are no units or leases that can be sold—and the NCA and the commonwealth, to date, have not conceded that they will support a change to the territory plan to allow individual leases or individual blocks to be assigned to, if it is to be 13 houses, the 13 houses that we would rebuild. I made the point that in that context, as individual houses, they would be the only tenants of public houses that would not be able to purchase their public houses and secure title in the ACT. The comment I made applied to houses on individual blocks and that was the point of the hilarious supplementary question that was pursued today. Of course public housing tenants in facilities that are not strata titled or in relation to which there are not unit leases cannot purchase their units.

Mrs Burke: You should check your facts.

MR STANHOPE: It is not a question of checking my facts. It is really about question time, or questions, descending into this sort of spurious, undergraduate, juvenile nitpicking: “Were you talking about whether public housing tenants in multiunit developments can buy the entire block of units?” Of course they cannot. We do not sell public housing units in blocks that are not multititled. That was the point, of course, of the incredibly childish question that was asked, seeking to entrap me, just as we saw today with regard to Ms Gallagher—the same puerile, childish attempt at point scoring on a nonsense. So I clarify the answer of yesterday, Mr Speaker, by saying that unless the commonwealth is prepared to work with the ACT government in relation to Pierces Creek, I fear—

Mr Smyth: That is not what you said yesterday.

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