Page 2600 - Week 08 - Thursday, 30 June 2005

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Theatre and talk to the chap who sleeps right there. There are plenty of people sleeping rough while other people are soaking up the assets of ACT housing. Families, like the family I worked with, have to live in absolutely and utterly undesirable—they were not poverty stricken and they were not living rough—circumstances. In that situation the parents were in one house and the young children in another house, with no proper contact with their parents for three months at a time. That is not suitable and it is not acceptable in this day and age. We are all here saying how wonderful we are, how good we are at dealing with refugees and how generous we are to refugees—it was Mr Stanhope yesterday and Mr Hargreaves last week—but this is a refugee family. This family came here as refugees and this how they were treated by housing.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (8.22): Mr Speaker, unfortunately, Dr Foskey leaves me no option but to respond to her comments as well. It is quite sad that she keeps raising this in debate in this place. The first issue is that of her using this particular debate this evening as a platform for a personal explanation and attack on the Liberal Party, the Liberal opposition. Indeed, as my colleague Mr Seselja has indicated, Dr Foskey raised issues not discussed in detail in the estimates process. As Dr Foskey has raised the matter, I must make it clear that the Greens and the Labor government, come to that, are scare-mongering with regard to the Liberal Party’s position on security of tenure.

Let me state it again: the Liberal opposition believes in the provision of public housing for as long as people are genuinely in need but that, once their circumstances significantly change, and that is the key, the property should be given over to someone in greater need. Now you can huff and puff all you want but that is my position. Dr Foskey chooses to believe this is a personal attack on her but it is not. Unfortunately, she is the collateral fallout of a Liberal Party position that is quite fair and reasonable. We will leave that there. My colleagues and I will not support someone who can well afford to give up that property and be in the private market.

I have to also bring up the issue of Mr Hargreaves’s comments in the estimates hearings, where he talks about landlords charging obscene rents. I do not think the minister has thought this through. Those comments are outstanding. The Treasurer has placed private domestic landlords in an absolutely atrocious position. Mr Hargreaves would know that private landlords often pay back to the government up to as much as 60 per cent in fees, taxes and charges. Your government, this Labor government, has made such an awful hash of allowing people to invest in the private domestic market in Canberra. Let us not forget that many of these people are funding their own retirement and will therefore not become an impost on future commonwealth governments or a drain on the public purse.

Mr Hargreaves seems to think there is some sort of capitalist activity going on. These are ordinary people trying to secure their future. I think it is quite short-sighted that he continues to bag the private landlords in this town. It is quite despicable. So, what do they do? They give up. They say, “Forget it. I’m not going to invest any more in Canberra: it’s too hard, too expensive, and not economically viable.” So what do those private domestic landlords do? They sell up, and then what happens? Because they do not want to buy—certain people do not want to buy their home—they then move from that market on to the public housing waiting list. We have got rid of a housing option for people. We then get a ballooning out in the waiting list. It just makes commonsense, but not all that common to this government, I see. I think it is time the minister stopped

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