Page 4250 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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Let us talk about Lachlan Court—a series of bed-sits built very early in the life of Canberra that had reached their use-by date by our time in office. We got rid of it by the same process. We transferred ACT Housing teams into Lachlan Court and worked on site with the tenants. We found out what they wanted and got them suitable accommodation elsewhere. We reaped a benefit, which went back into ACT Housing, as per the agreement.

Mr Hargreaves: Did it just?

MR SMYTH: You are quite right; as per the agreement. We had a process whereby we were rejuvenating those sites. Looking now at Burnie Court, I can remember taking a sledgehammer down there with Michael Moore in late 2001 and personally starting to knock it down. It was great because we followed the same process. We talked with the tenants, ascertained their needs and helped them to move to other locations.

The minister asks, “How much extra stock?” There is no extra stock because you have not done anything about it. It has been vacant for four years under your governance, minister, because neither Mr Wood nor Mr Hargreaves could get off their hands to make a decision. Obviously Mr Hargreaves did not listen to his own lesson about selling in premium suburbs and buying in other suburbs. They set the reserve too high; they misread the market; and they could not make the money they thought they should be able to make. Burnie Court has been idle and empty for four years because this government does not understand how the market works. Part of Burnie Court has had some APUs put on it, which is a good thing, but the majority of the Burnie Court site has had nothing done to it; it sits there vacant and idle. I think that is what Dr Foskey is talking about and it certainly concerns me.

I was the minister responsible for the review of the multiunit strategy, or the MUP strategy as it became known. The strategy was quite clear. It looked at the 19 “big-flat” complexes, as they were known—complexes with more than 25 flats; it suggested we sell some and keep some. It stated that some needed refurbishment and that some were okay. Nothing has happened there since. Nothing has happened in four years under Labor with regard to the multiflats strategy.

Mr Hargreaves: We picked up your policy in a hurry.

MR SMYTH: Maybe you can do the check—maybe not. You can tell me where you have seen activity, certainly in your electorate, courtesy of this government with regard to big flats. It has not happened. The minister wants us to note his work but does not present any evidence to suggest it has happened. I think that is why he was happy to sit back down after talking to his amendment without talking to it, and saying a great deal, but saying very little in the end.

We have some promises, one of which was the infamous $10 million Treasurer’s advance for fire safety. Perhaps when the minister leaps back to his feet to give us all the information that I am sure he has at his fingertips, he will tell us how much of the $10 million in the fire safety area is still outstanding. Three years after it was used to run down the budget, has the money been spent? Have we got $10 million worth of fire safety in the flats strategy?

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