Page 1790 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005

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“Get on with it”, or any other measure that the Assembly sees fit. But I do not propose to tie up people in the housing department who should be out there trying to find solutions and solving problems with those solutions. This intergovernmental committee also considers national and international initiatives in the affordable housing arrangements.

I have to take issue with something that Dr Foskey said. She said we have all agreed that we are in crisis. I do not agree at all that we are in crisis. I agree that there are some people in this community for whom a crisis looms or a crisis exists. I do not accept that we as a community are facing a wholesale crisis. That would be to put the lie to it. What we are seeing in fact is a crisis in approach because not all the community is embracing the fact that we have got a problem. We in the Assembly are embracing it. Mrs Burke and I regularly have fights over what we are going to do about it.

We do not fight over the issue. We have fights over what is being done about it, and then we disagree on that. We do not have involvement by the private sector, and I was delighted to hear Dr Foskey say that they are starting to knock on the door. Brilliant! Let us now convene the sorts of forums that we had for the tenants the other day and get those people in a room and do exactly the sorts of things that Dr Foskey says. To suggest that this government has done nothing about it, either by inference or by press release suggesting that things are missing from budgets; ergo we have done nothing, I find an abysmal piece of work—

Mrs Burke: I never said that.

MR HARGREAVES: No, you did not, Mrs Burke, but another member of this chamber did and I had to respond at lunchtime. It was not you. To that I responded that we have restructured the whole of the Housing ACT, and we continue to go through that process. The executive director, Martin Hehir, has turned the place upside down and is doing some fantastic things with alternative ways in which to assist people with their accommodation. I have listed the range of initiatives, such as the emergency accommodation service—and I know this is a big favourite of Mrs Burke’s. There is our backpacker and caravan park initiative. It is only a holding thing, but it stops somebody from freezing to death overnight.

Then we have transitional housing through Havelock House Association and Community Housing Canberra. We do not always think that everything they do is bang on the money but, generally speaking, we are attacking the problem and we are attacking it academically and with some vigour.

Mrs Burke: Even the drop-in night centre that I suggested.

MR HARGREAVES: Even the drop-in night centre. We have got another $100,000 in this budget to look for solutions for the homeless. I do not see Dr Foskey saying, “I note in the last few budgets, minister, that you people have put $200 million into this.” We have—$52 million in 2005-06. It is not in this budget. It was in the previous budget, the 2002-03 budget. In 2002-03, 2003-04 and 2004-05—and I could be a year out—there was a total of $200 million. That is an enormous amount of money by anybody’s measure.

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