Page 4255 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 16 November 2005
they are going to be able to stay in that property until they are ready to move on. That surely is the strongest possible encouragement to people to care for that property, to nurture it, to treat it as their own, to turn it into a home.
The Liberal government moved away from this policy in January 2001. Not only did they begin to kick people out of their homes for managing to increase their incomes and improve their life circumstances, they also depleted the public housing stock by about 1,000 properties. Mrs Burke, I am sure, looks back proudly at the achievements of the previous Liberal government in this realm. Giving people in need fewer housing options—to the tune of 1,000 fewer dwellings—and threatening to evict them if they changed their life for the better is a record you ought to hang your head in shame about, Mrs Burke. Public housing tenants in this city have a lot to fear from you if we are ever unfortunate enough to see you in government again.
Mrs Burke would have us reward our housing tenants who have spring-boarded to a better life by kicking them out of their homes. In the ACT, as in other jurisdictions, there are a small proportion of public housing tenants who pay full market rent for their property. These tenants are commonly referred to as market renters, and their numbers are falling. They currently comprise only 14 per cent of all public housing tenants, compared with 22 per cent in 2001. Many of these people are longstanding tenants and are contributing to the development of Canberra through their public or private service.
In addition, 96 per cent of market renters pay less than the current median rent in the private rental market. Given the lack of low-cost housing available in the private market, it cannot be assumed that these people would be able to find affordable housing if, as Mrs Burke proposes, they are removed from their home. Our tenants are people with families, homes, memories, feelings and lives. They are more than numbers on a page, and our policy reflects this.
I now turn to Mrs Burke’s call for the redevelopment or rejuvenation of multiunit complexes. She must have read our public housing asset management strategy while surfing the net one night. Rejuvenation and redevelopment are exactly what we are doing. We are addressing the commonwealth legacy of an ageing public housing stock—the oldest in Australia. Guided by the ACT government’s five-year public housing asset management strategy, we have been rejuvenating the public housing portfolio and responding to new and evolving needs such as the ageing population, through the purchase and construction of specially adapted properties.
Further, as part of the disability modification program in 2004-05, we adapted 470 homes, at a cost of over $1.5 million, to provide individually tailored modifications for ageing public housing tenants and those with a disability. Rejuvenation is also being undertaken across the portfolio of multiunit sites. $12 million has been spent on the important area of improving fire safety provisions and safety for these complexes. Expenditure of a further $4 million to complete this work will be undertaken shortly.
The Northbourne flats have recently been refurbished, as have the Ainslie and Griffith flats. Refurbishment of Kanangra Court in Reid is expected to commence this year. None of that is mentioned. The aged persons flats in Ainslie and Reid have also been upgraded. Following the successful first stage of Illawarra Court, the remaining works and programs are to commence in February 2006.