Page 3985 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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We have recently heard that the ACT is one of the most affluent societies in Australia. Add to this the fact that we have the highest proportion of public housing of any state or territory in Australia of some 8.6 per cent—in fact twice the national average of 4.5 per cent. I hope the minister continues to ask himself what is going wrong and why we have a housing system in crisis. I appreciate the minister’s announcement today about the summit. I look forward to that and hope I will be invited along to it, to enable me to take a very bipartisan approach and work with the community to effect some positive outcomes.

Rather than playing ping-pong across this chamber and with people’s lives, we need to make some hard decisions about where money is spent in the future. And we need to make sure we have strong access criteria for people going into public housing. I have no qualms about that and I stand on that: we need to make sure that people who have to access public housing have that access. We need to make sure that we look at all options to make sure people move through, and that they have entry and exit points to the public housing sector. This will ensure that those most in need—those most vulnerable—can access housing in times of need.

I thank the minister for this comprehensive report, and thank her staff for putting the report together. I look forward to further reports. As I have always said, I again extend an offer across the chamber to work with the minister on some good outcomes for the future.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.30): I wish I had Mrs Burke’s 15 minutes, because I have truncated my speech hugely. I will have to gallop through it, but bear with me as you can read it later.

First of all, it is important that I put on the record yet again that I am a public housing tenant, though I know I do not have to ask for permission to speak in this instance.

In Anti-Poverty Week, it is timely to be looking at housing, since the cost of housing is one of the biggest factors, along with lack of access to reasonably well paid work, exacerbating poverty in the ACT. Consequently, my thanks go to the government for bringing on this item for debate in this sitting week.

The ACT Greens’ analysis of the report on progress with affordable housing in the ACT shows that, sadly, there is little evidence of an improvement in housing affordability over the past four years. We believe that this results from the government’s failure to take action in response to key recommendations made by the affordable housing task force in its 2000 report on strategies for action.

I would like now to summarise the lack of ACT government progress against the seven key strategies identified by the task force. The first strategy was the development of social housing. The growth in public housing appears to have been small, as the number of dwellings increased by just 1.6 per cent from 2002-03 to 2004-05. In real terms, there has been a decline in the number of new tenants housed in public housing each year since 2002. Of course, the government has failed to deliver on an election promise to increase funding to public housing by $10 million per year and has not taken action to provide subsidised land for social housing providers.

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