Page 2163 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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MR HARGREAVES: I believe that that question was adequately canvassed and catered for within the context of the estimates committee responses.

MR SESELJA: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Is the Emergency Services Authority able to operate within its budget? If so, why were these advances sought? If not, why not?

MR HARGREAVES: It is my understanding that the officials provided the estimates committee with a listing of those unforeseen items. The issue of whether or not any agency within the government can work within its budget is a matter for management by that agency and by me, and for examination in the due processes of this place.

Public housing

MRS BURKE: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services. Minister, Today Tonight last night aired a story regarding convicted criminal David Eastman, which highlighted that Mr Eastman still has a public housing property in the ACT. Minister, what do you intend to do as housing minister about this tenancy agreement?

MR HARGREAVES: I did not see that program last night. I am surprised that Mrs Burke has got that much free time that she can do so. Could I also say to you, Mr Speaker, that I normally do not talk about individual cases, but this particular issue has been canvassed in this place ad nauseam. It was canvassed, in fact, by us when we were in opposition.

I can say this much. Firstly, when we enter into tenancy agreements with our tenants, we enter into legally binding contracts. Secondly, the case of Mr Eastman is still before the courts. He is still before the courts. If Mrs Burke is suggesting that every time a person appears before a court and is remanded in custody we promptly terminate their tenancy, she should be ashamed of herself. The tenancy agreement—

Ms MacDonald: Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I just heard Mr Pratt interject with, “That is a lie.” I ask him to withdraw that.

Mr Pratt: Mr Speaker, I did not say that at all.

MR SPEAKER: I did not hear this. Mr Pratt, cease your interjections!

MR HARGREAVES: Continuing on, the arrangements we have with our tenants are legally binding documents. People have a right to security of a home. Mrs Burke would have us remove the security of a home from people. When a person is remanded in custody, whether it is just on remand or whether it is part of a sentence that is subject to appeal, the matter has not been concluded by the courts. I do not propose to recommend that the department, through the Commissioner for Housing, make any decision regarding people’s tenancies until such time as judicial proceedings have run their full course.

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