Page 1792 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 4 May 2005
exactly those things that it should already be doing. So it would follow that, even if the government—and a majority government can do whatever it pleases, and when—were to agree to this motion, which they clearly are not going to do, except for the amendment on a timeframe for reporting that we are talking about, which is positive, it would not necessarily take us any further forward.
Perhaps, as a starting point, a review of the suggested actions outlined in the findings of the task force back in 2002 would show evidence of whether the government has considered the merits of the actual reports, and that hopefully will be revealed come 30 June. I can see your officers scurrying around, minister, now that you have dropped that on them. Indeed, this debate today may serve to refresh or wake up the imagination of a sometimes, from where I stand, tired and lacklustre government that is simply taking forever to do anything. I think this is the problem. We need to somehow find a way. Yes, implementation is one thing but, once you have got an implementation strategy, you have to have the willingness and ability and energy to make those things happen on the ground.
A number of the findings in the 2002 affordable housing task force report have, I believe, to the credit of this government, been taken on board, and I think the minister alluded to that. Some 33 recommendations were agreed to and moves have been made to implement them, which is a positive, where the government sees it fiscally appropriate and within the scope of its social planning to do so. I would anticipate that the minister is faced with a sometimes insurmountable task of not only convincing the Treasurer to see the merit of injecting further funds into the management of, for example, the public housing asset base, but also to see that the funds allocated to the housing portfolio are adequately and responsibly expended. This is what the Treasurer calls “responsible budgeting”, yet the government is not sufficiently equipped to sustain the social policies and initiatives that it built its platform on. Fiscally and ideologically, you cannot have it both ways.
Mr Hargreaves made some points in regard to using people’s housing difficulties to attract media attention. Minister, I have to address this point right now, and you have raised it before. It is a concern on a couple of fronts, one, that you are saying to people, “Don’t think by going to media you are going to get any further forward with your case.” I would like to say to you right now that you should stand up and say that publicly before TV cameras, say that to the people who are pleading their case on behalf of the hundreds of people in similar predicaments.
We are not talking about cases in isolation. We are talking about brave, courageous people prepared to stand up and say, “I am making a stand. You are not listening and you are not acting.” Listen to the individual and you may well learn that the collective approach of individuals will give you and the government a way forward. Contrary to popular belief, people who choose to go to the media do so as a last resort. Nobody wants to do their washing in public, but you cannot deny people the human right to be able to do that, to voice their feelings and their opinions. They do not feel that they are being heard and they do not feel, when they are heard, that it is being acted on.
Let us have a look at Mr Hargreaves’s assertions that I want people out of public housing. This is people who are on high incomes, who have assets and the means to move into the private market or purchase their own home. It is an assertion that your