Page 3988 - Week 12 - Thursday, 20 October 2005

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I think that the ACT government would agree in principle with many of our recommendations, but the government’s unwillingness to implement or at least seriously investigate these recommendations prevents it from truly engaging in a strategy that could help in the elimination of the current housing crisis.

We now need to develop an affordable housing plan or strategy and I would like a response from the government as to when one will be released. I am happy to offer the minister a copy of our analysis of the progress report, which is much more detailed than this speech can be. It provides references and case histories.

MR SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for Disability, Housing and Community Services, Minister for Urban Services and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (5.40), in reply: Mr Speaker, I would be delighted to receive a copy of that analysis from the good Dr Foskey, and here she is trotting across the chamber to present it to me with some fanfare. However, I do hope that this report has contained within it some academic rigor. I would hope that it does, because I am aware of the reputation of the good Dr Foskey. However, her analysis in her speech of the government’s progress report on affordable housing was, in general, simplistic, disingenuous, factually incorrect and lacking evidence to support her claims. I do not have much else to say about that.

Declining housing affordability is a national issue. Responsibility for affordable housing is held jointly with the Australian government. Work is under way on this important issue at a national level. The ACT government achieved growth in public housing from 2002-03 to 2004-05 despite a continuing decline, in real terms, in funding received from the Australian government under the commonwealth-state housing agreement.

Dr Foskey states that there has been a decline each year since 2002 in the number of new tenants housed in public housing. However, she fails to acknowledge that the total number of people housed in public housing has increased since 2002. Furthermore, Dr Foskey fails to acknowledge that the ACT has one of the highest levels of public housing in Australia.

The decline in the number of new tenants housed reflects the success of the ACT government’s measures to sustain tenancies and break the cycle of homelessness. If Dr Foskey would like to see more new tenants housed each year, the government would be required to resort to evicting more tenants, including those who pay full market rent for their property. That is contrary to Dr Foskey’s policy, and indeed the government’s policy, of security of tenure and sustainable tenancies in public housing.

Dr Foskey argues that the ACT government’s progress report on affordable housing makes a number of assertions that are without basis and are deliberately misleading. The report did not, as Dr Foskey claims, suggest that there has been a decrease in housing stress in the ACT since 2002. The report explicitly states that it will not be possible to quantify the number of ACT households in housing stress until the next census is undertaken in 2006.

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