Page 1359 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005
she had paid $550 out of the $1,300 debt. She had a plan to pay the rest. She had organised a direct deduction from the bank her social security benefits were paid into. She actually said; “I used to think getting a house was a right. I realise now it isn’t. It’s a privilege and I want to make sure I pay this off.” We made some inquiries of housing to make sure what she said was right. We instructed the government solicitor to request the court to adjourn the matter for three months just to see how it went. It went brilliantly and we were able to discontinue the proceedings. That came from talking to a tenant. I am rather horrified to hear that the minister does not actually talk to tenants on the regular basis suggested by Mrs Burke. I recommend that he do so.
On a positive note, minister—it is in the Auditor-General Act, but it relates very much to public housing—I am pleased to see an improvement there in terms of recognising breaches of clause 70 of the agreement, which ensures that neighbours have quiet occupation of their premises without being unduly hassled and having their lives made a misery by disruptive, unruly and antisocial tenants. It is an excellent step to put that into legislation to ensure that anyone affected under the Residential Tenancies Act can go to a tribunal and say; “My life is being made a misery. This person is breaching the section”—and if that person is a housing tenant, no doubt he or she is breaching clause 70 of the agreement with housing—“throw them out.” Now there is a process by which people like that can be evicted.
It is always difficult. It is quite easy to evict people who do not pay rent. Housing has got that down to a fine art over the years. But it is a lot harder to deal with people who just make their neighbours’ lives a misery. In the past you would need someone to come forward. In my experience I found that was very difficult to get. More recently quite a lot of people have been willing to come forward and give evidence, which probably indicates it is even more of a problem now than it ever was. But it is still very difficult. That clause will help immensely in rectifying that particular problem.
So congratulations to the government. That is something that I think is very worth while. It will relieve some of the problems. It is a nasty problem because a bad tenant, a person who is antisocial, will cause so much drama in the neighbourhood. I assume most of us have seen instances of that. They really do make people’s lives a misery. People want to sell up, losing probably tens of thousands of dollars in the process. It is often difficult. If you simply move the tenant to another neighbourhood, that just transfers the problem. This is a good, equitable measure that will certainly assist to relieve that particular problem in our community. It is a good step. Congratulations on that.
Some of the problems the minister has, such as antisocial tenants and tenants selling drugs and breaking the law, go back to another of his portfolios, and that is policing. It is quite clear that, through no fault of their own, we simply do not have enough police in this territory to do all the things that are necessary. Again I urge on the minister and the government the need to do what the government and this minister promised before the 2001 election. That is to ensure that we are around the national average, because we are miles behind and below it at present. If the government takes action on that score, that will also assist in dealing with some of the problems that beset a number of people not only in our wider community, but also in our public housing community.
The inability of police to fully attend to the matters that they want to attend to and assist many people in our housing is regretted by the police, but certainly is a cause of