Page 540 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 16 February 2005

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younger people who may be less confident, without being subjected to those sorts of demands from people who are pressuring them to hand over money. I would hope the government would give serious regard to those representations.


MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.22): Mr Speaker, I come into the chamber to respond to Mr Hargreaves’s little brain snap previously about the matter that I raised yesterday and I will make three points. My constituent has acknowledged—and I acknowledged in this place yesterday—that they made a mistake when not accepting the first house allocation that they were given. But they did not accept it because they were told that if they did not accept it they may obtain a more favourable one in the future. My constituent said to me earlier this week, “It was the worst mistake I have made.” Probably a number of the other mistakes he has made were due to actually following the advice that has been given by Housing who have advised them on a number of occasions to change the method by which they applied for housing.

On the specific question, Mr Speaker, of documentation not being provided, I will actually tell you what was not provided. The department insisted that my constituent had never provided evidence of the birth of the young child that I spoke of yesterday. In a meeting at Housing in Belconnen my constituent and his brother insisted that Housing officials go through the file because they said, “You’ve never provided the birth certificates; never happened; you’re very remiss in this.” They insisted that Housing go through the file on that occasion. And what did they find in the file? The birth certificate, at about the time that they said that they had provided the birth certificate which, from memory, was September 2002.

The other matter of information that was supposedly outstanding according to the department of housing was information of income. My constituent’s sister-in-law had attempted to operate a business, which had been unsuccessful, and they provided the information that was set out on the Housing website as appropriate information to indicate their income, which was a tax return, et cetera, because it was a small business.

The Housing official said, seemingly unknowing of what was on their website, that this was not suitable. They needed a set of certified accounts from a certified accountant when this was a business that had failed and these people were on welfare. They do not have the means to access a certified accountant. My constituent raised this with them, pointed out that what was required as set out on their web page was what was provided, but that was not enough for the Housing people.

I understand that some action has happened this week. I hope it has not happened just because I have started to get my dander up and started to talk to people about this issue. What has happened with this family has been a litany of errors. Some of it may result from the fact that, whilst being quite well-educated people who have quite a good command of English, their accents are not great. These people are Chinese and migrated to Australia from the People’s Republic of China. Sometimes their English is not really easy to understand and perhaps they are not getting the message as clearly as they should.

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