Page 1360 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 5 April 2005

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consternation for many law-abiding tenants in our public housing. I thank Mrs Burke for bringing on this matter of public importance. It is an excellent topic. It is one that we need to attend to. We can always, of course, do better.

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (4.35): I am happy to have the opportunity to talk about the level of service delivery to Housing ACT tenants. I, too, have heard from constituents about issues related to delays in maintenance and repairs in public housing, particularly old and multiunit properties around Civic and town centres.

I am concerned, however, that Liberal members have presented issues of difficult neighbours as though they are peculiar to public housing. Private landlords, it is true, lack the duty of care that falls to the government, although I am sure that many in the community would like them to play a greater role in the provision of affordable accommodation. However, I do not think we can talk about this topic without addressing the issue of the viability of the sector. I would like to start by quoting from the Australian Housing in Urban Research Institute’s research and policy bulletin of April 2004. It outlines that “housing authorities in Australasia are running operating deficits which are not financially sustainable”. The research was conducted by Jon Hall and Mike Berry. The article states:

Sustainable financing for public housing authorities.

After six years of policy and program delivery change, six of nine state housing authorities in Australasia are running operating deficits which are not financially sustainable.

Key points

The major, sources of income for State Housing Authorities … government grants and rents from tenants, have been constrained, especially since 1996, as state and federal governments cut back real levels of capital funding through the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement … and moved to target available public housing on low income households with multiple and complex needs.

This has led to an increase in the proportion of public tenants receiving rent rebates and accessing public housing through priority allocation.

Closer and more effective targeting associated with Australian Government requirements to continuously improve the quality of service to tenants, has generated rising operating costs for housing authorities.

The overall consequence has been for SHA revenue to increase more slowly than total costs, moving the authorities from a position of moderate operating surpluses into rising structural deficits.

SHAs have responded to a worsening financial position by asset sales, which have helped breach the growing deficit in the short term. But this is clearly not sustainable in the longer term, (i.e. eventually the authority will run out of saleable dwellings).

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