Page 4248 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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I will speak to the substantive motion after the vote has been taken on the amendment. I congratulate Mrs Burke on embracing the government’s social plan. I think it is wonderful; I think it is absolutely brilliant. Mrs Burke talks about social inclusion. That is what the social plan is all about. She is trying to appropriate government policy and claim it as her own idea. She will not get away with things like that, but I am really pleased. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, of course.

The amendment changes the wording from the Assembly “calls on” the Stanhope government to do X, Y and Z to read “notes the work of”. The reason for that is that we are already doing all of those things. I will address that in the context of the substantive motion. There are a couple of things I would like to put on the record. Dr Foskey said that selling public housing depletes public housing stock but the work we have been doing shows that this is not necessarily the case. The economic theory Dr Foskey espoused is correct—I have no difficulty with that—but it forgets two small points. The first is that, under the CSHA we are obliged to put the money back into stock.

It is true that, if you sell a house for, say, $300,000 and the cheapest one in the marketplace is $320,000, the housing stock is going to be depleted over time. That is the theory put forward by Dr Foskey. I have no difficulty with that, except that our stock is scattered all over town. O’Malley and Hawker are about the only two suburbs that do not have any stock. I cannot remember; there might be another one; but predominantly we have stock in every suburb of Canberra.

If we have the opportunity to sell public property in premium suburbs to tenants, we can buy more than one piece of stock for the asset base. For example, if we were to sell something in Weetangera, we would probably pick up a three-bedroom house on a quarter acre block for somewhere between $400,000 and $450,000, or we might be able to buy a couple of apartments in a multiunit development.

Mr Smyth: Yes, but are you?

MR HARGREAVES: The short answer is yes, because we are salt-and-peppering the suburbs. I make the point that Dr Foskey says it depletes the stock and I am saying that that is not necessarily so.

There is another thing we need to understand. I think we need to start being a touch careful with our language. I am not putting this as a general caution; this is not a lecture; I want us all to do this. I am probably as guilty as anybody else. I have said in this place—I know Mrs Burke has said this out in the ether and I am sure Dr Foskey has as well—that home ownership is not the panacea we think it is. It is not the cure-all for affordable housing. It is a part solution; it is not the total solution. We need to make sure that home ownership is not a status symbol.

Dr Foskey talked about kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds going to the same school. She is spot on. All too often people say, “Do you own your home?” Therefore home ownership is a measure of status that we must get rid of. Renting a home is not a disease when measured against owning a home. There is nothing wrong with renting. Renting a publicly owned home is not a disease either. We should be saying to

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