Page 4254 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005

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four years. Moreover, in the 2005-06 budget, the ACT government allocated over $117 million for total expenditure on social housing services. This represents an increase of over 6 per cent on the total funding for social housing services provided in 2004-05.

The government has also moved to assist those most in need to gain access to public housing, as well as sustain their tenancies. These initiatives are wide ranging and are aimed predominantly at ensuring that people are not unnecessarily put at risk of homelessness.

Mrs Burke claims that the needs of our most disadvantaged Canberrans, those on the public housing waiting lists, are not being met. I would agree that, despite the high level of public housing by national standards, there is a considerable demand for public housing in the ACT. I am pleased to report, however, that, while there are currently 2,344 applicants on the waiting list, this is 238 fewer than in June 2004.

Mrs Burke: That is a furphy; admit it.

MR HARGREAVES: She cannot accept—can she, Mr Speaker?—that, when you say that something has dropped and is going towards what she is trying to tell us to do, it is working.

Moreover, in the financial year to date, Housing ACT is providing a home to an average of 79 new tenants per month. This is a significant increase over the average of 54 new tenants per month achieved in 2004-05. I hope this trend will continue and we will see further reductions in our waiting list.

More public housing tenants in the ACT are provided with a rental rebate. Most public housing tenants are provided with a rental rebate. Recipients of this rebate do not pay more than 25 per cent of household income in rent, ensuring that public housing remains affordable for all tenants.

Let me say that the government acknowledges that public housing should be targeted to those most in need and that, if you are above the financial eligibility criteria, you should seriously look at your options around moving into the private rental market or purchasing your own home. There is considerable logic in that position, and the government recognises that.

The key issue here is encouragement versus compulsion. The government favours encouragement. The opposition favours compulsion. Mrs Burke has been saying; “Boot them out. As soon as they get to a level; boot them out; get rid of them; fob them off, they are market renters.”

Mrs Burke: Where is your evidence?

MR HARGREAVES: The evidence is in press releases a yard thick. We have a sale-to-tenants program and encourage those who have the financial capacity to exit the public housing system to look at their options.

That said, we believe that, at the end of the day, security of tenure within the public housing system is important. People should know that when they are allocated property

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