Page 2724 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 16 August 2005

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house as their home. People should know when they move into a house if they are going to be able to stay in that house. That surely is the strongest possible encouragement for people to care for that house, to nurture it, to treat it as their home, to turn it into their home. I think that is the strongest reason for maintaining security of tenure: it is their home.

The former government put in place arrangements requiring the Commissioner for Housing to review the income and assets of public tenants every three to five years. Those tenants who do not meet the eligibility criteria at the time of the review faced having their tenancies terminated. Public housing tenants were thus discouraged from improving their financial situation by actively or fully engaging in the work force. This is a classic poverty trap. The Stanhope government has removed these review arrangements and ACT public tenants can now have the confidence and peace of mind to plan for the future, knowing they have a permanent home. They can actively seek work or better jobs without fear of having their houses withdrawn. This is a good outcome.

MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Mrs Burke?

MRS BURKE: Minister, can you justify to the ACT taxpayer your use of a public housing mailing list, normally used by your department for legitimate communication with tenants, to deliver misguided political propaganda—published in a departmental endorsed newsletter?

MR HARGREAVES: The government of the day provides services for people and we also supply, we would hope, secure and safe accommodation in their house. Security and safety go also to the security and safety of their mind and their emotions. There are people out there who are afraid. There are people out there, public housing tenants who are market renters, who have contacted me personally—in fact, while I was at the Erindale shops doing the shopping one of them said to me, ‘You are not going to remove the security of tenure, are you Minister?” I said, “No, I am not.” They said, “Well, what happens if there’s a change of government?” I said, “What will probably happen is that you will go back to the previous regime. But we are not going to do it.”

I have had enough of these people asking me that I decided to do two things. One was to tell them where the source of their fear was. I did not say the Assembly, I did not say the Liberal Party; I said the ACT opposition. The ACT opposition are those people over there who are supposedly elected to this place to look after people. It is not their rank and file Liberal Party members; it is those people over there. I want them to know exactly which members of the Liberal Party they are. It is you, Mrs Burke. You lead a cohort of people who are frightening the people and you are providing them with disincentives to build their lives. You are effectively attacking the way in which they are building their lives.

I have no regrets about using a communication mechanism between public housing tenants and me to let them know that they are safe in their houses, that some dark, grim reaper is not going to knock on their door—like what has been happening in the Middle East of recent times—and say, “You’ve got 48 hours to get out.” I am not going to stand by and let people think that this grim reaper over there is going to knock on their door with a scythe in her hand and say, “Sorry, you have to stop feeding the baby now because you have to get out of your house. I am sorry, you have to give your job up if

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