Page 4241 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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choice and are tailored to their needs, local conditions and opportunities”. Critics will simply say that if you underpin public or social housing eligibility criteria with financial parameters, you may set up a poverty trap. That is another debate indeed, but I would argue stridently that, if a person is doing well, they would not suddenly want to reel and go backwards.

I welcome constructive criticism and debate on this point and I welcome members’ comments, but most Canberrans have been finding it very difficult to be convinced that any public housing tenant who is receiving a substantial income and who is not faced with any significant financial difficulties or other hardships should remain in public or social housing, as opposed to other members of the community who are in dire need of an affordable housing option yet cannot ever see the prospect of receiving public or social housing assistance because the waiting lists are now unmanageable.

I agree with recent government sentiment towards affordable housing. I note that the relevant ministers are not ignoring the difficulties in tackling the problem of providing some affordable housing options. I acknowledge that some effort is being directed towards housing stress and affordability issues, yet there has been no outstanding solution forthcoming from government aimed at significantly reducing the waiting lists for public housing.

If the Stanhope government cannot deliver an increase in the number of dwellings it offers for public housing, there appears to be no prominent solution other than perhaps to adopt some significant changes to the configuration of mixed housing options in order to house some of the most disadvantaged people in our community. To reinforce this point: through its own admission in the asset management strategy, the Stanhope government concedes:

… the increasingly adverse impact on rent revenues as a result of targeting housing provision (and increased rental rebates) to those most in need, together with a decline in CSHA funding, will have detrimental impacts on the ongoing viability of the public housing system. Attempts to rejuvenate the stock will also be seriously constrained.

Therefore, to combat the issues of funding the system and the rejuvenation of multiunit complex sites, the government must pursue housing options that are flexible, that will offer dwellings that suit retirees and pensioners who wish to downsize, investors that are attracted to offering affordable rental options, and young people aspiring to enter home ownership for the first time or catering for the public housing sector.

All of the different housing options can be infused to create an urban environment that services specified needs yet, more importantly, creates a community that truly reflects the diversity of people across our city. By highlighting some of the symbolism of the true intention of the creation and development of this unique city into our national capital, I am in turn expressing a connection between some of the egalitarian ideals held in the planning of this city and the need for a shift towards a rethink about how we develop community inclusion by way of residential planning and consideration for the blend of affordable housing options, be they ownership or rental, within an existing or new housing development.

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