Page 4135 - Week 13 - Thursday, 14 December 2006

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new animals what is required. For example, cattle dogs train new cattle dogs in the business of rounding up sheep. That is interesting—cattle dogs rounding up sheep. Cattle dogs actually round up cattle, and sheep dogs round up sheep. Mr Speaker. I shall speak sternly to people who do not know the difference between cattle dogs and sheep dogs. Mr Speaker, that is a little bit of lightness at Christmas time.

I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Burke) adjourned to the next sitting.

Housing Assistance Bill 2006

Mr Hargreaves, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR HARGREAVES (Brindabella—Minister for the Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Housing and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (10.48): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I present the Housing Assistance Bill 2006. Members will be aware that the current legislation governing housing assistance in the ACT is almost 20 years old. During this time the ACT has become self-governed and there have been many changes to the public service structure. The territory has also witnessed fluctuations in housing affordability.

The fact is that our housing assistance legislation has not kept pace with these and other changes. This is why the government asked the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services to develop new legislation to replace the Housing Assistance Act 1987. This bill is the result of that work.

There have been a number of significant housing policy initiatives undertaken since I was appointed Minister for Housing. For example, there have been six ministerial housing advisory forums, a housing consumer forum and the ACT housing summit. Through these events, government has been talking to tenants, service providers, business and the community about housing issues and the status of current legislation. Interestingly, little overall concern has been recorded about the act’s broad policy parameters. In this regard, objectives between the old act and the new proposed legislation remain the same, underpinned by the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement.

The new legislation has its focus on building a better housing assistance system, one that more clearly defines the powers and limitations of the Commissioner for Social Housing. We have taken this opportunity to amend the title of the Commissioner for Housing to the Commissioner for Social Housing, in order to appropriately reflect the role’s responsibilities across both the community and public housing sectors.

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