Page 2595 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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Quamby, and the minister’s response to the review of standing orders, and hope that these steps will lead to vast improvements for the young people involved.

Proposed expenditure agreed to.

Proposed expenditure—Part 1.18—Housing ACT, $30,035,000 (net cost of outputs) and $5,580,000 (capital injection), totalling $35,615,000.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (8.03): As everyone is aware, I have been the subject of a massive political and media attack for still living in government housing eight months after being elected. I believe this campaign exploited general ignorance amongst the community of housing policy in the ACT, with no intention to increase understanding on this topic. Indeed, I believe it was intended to add grist to a very active rumour mill that was fuelled by some media people. While it has been a hideous time for my daughter and me, there has been a positive impact, and that is the way it made housing the standout issue of this budget.

The Liberal Party, with the property owner’s lobby and a small number of media commentators, has generally ignored the lack of funding for public housing in the budget and instead focused on attacking me for still living in my ACT housing home. Since the election I have been paying full market rent for the home that my daughter and I have lived in for eight years. I am wrongly accused of living in subsidised housing. I do not receive any subsidy. I pay full market rent and this contributes to the overall viability of public housing. I am very happy to support public housing through both my taxes and my rent. It is very clear that this is part of an attack on the security of tenure for all public housing residents in the ACT, and I am well aware that many long-term tenants, including those paying market rent, are now feeling uneasy and insecure in the face of it. I should say that I am highly gratified by the unsolicited support I received from many quarters in the community and I acknowledge the government’s support of its own policy and, incidentally, my position, which is one that the Greens support, and that is regardless of my living situation.

I would remind the Assembly that the department’s own review of housing ACT market renters found that market renters play an important role in the viability and sustainability of housing ACT, and a policy to reject market-rent paying tenants would not deliver a better social housing outcome for this city. The 13 per cent of tenants now paying full market rent contribute $19 million to housing ACT. If they all moved into the private market and paid their rent to private investors and developers, the ACT government would need to increase taxpayer funding by at least $12 million a year or sell off some houses to meet the shortfall thus providing fewer homes for people in need.

This takes us to the broader question, which has been somewhat hidden by the nasty personal attacks on me, of the role of public housing in the ACT. One of the positive aspects of life in this city is the mix of people in public and private housing in most suburbs, allowing rich and poor kids to grow up next to each other and go to the same schools and shops—something that is good for democracy and community development, I would have thought. When I first came to live in Yarralumla, I joined the Yarralumla Residents Association. This was at a time when there was a big campaign, perhaps it has changed its style lately, to reduce the level of government housing in Yarralumla, which, at that stage, was quite high at about 13 per cent—because, of course, Yarralumla, in

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