Page 2691 - Week 09 - Wednesday, 26 September 2007

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police officer reasonably believes it is necessary to undertake a search to prevent the commission of a crime.

As I understand the Liberal Party’s new policy position, however, it is not that the police will undertake the random checks. The random checks, on the spot, unannounced—checks that Mrs Burke and the Liberal Party propose—will be undertaken by housing officials, one assumes, which—

Mrs Burke: Did you read what I said?

MR STANHOPE: Of course, this is a significant derogation of the rights and protections under the rule of law as it operates here and in most civilised places around the world. If the law were not to be changed in the way that the Liberal Party proposes or intends to change it, residents would have significant rights, both under the law and as a result of the passage of the Human Rights Act, to prevent those on-the-spot inspections which Mrs Burke proposes would be carried out without any notice of intention to inspect. Of course, that is a major departure by the Liberal Party from the law as it currently applies in relation to the sanctity and integrity of public housing properties—the homes of those 23,000 people who occupy them.

Mr Gentleman’s question went to what the government does to allay the concerns which no doubt the 11½ thousand tenancies or 23,000 people who rely on public housing have in the face of these proposals by the Liberal Party. Today, I attended a quite significant event in the reception room involving the launch of a book prepared around the trials that residents of the Narrabundah caravan park faced in the context of the integrity and sanctity of their homes—the place in which they live, the place they call home, their community. I saw how important these issues are and the level of emotion and concern that those residents expressed to me today at the prospect of losing their homes or having their homes violated through the activities proposed there. One can understand how those 23,000 public housing tenants would feel in the face of this policy position that has been proposed by the Liberal Party.

This is a serious matter. The prospect that the Liberal Party in government would seek to change the law to allow on-the-spot, unannounced, non-approved invasions of their homes by either the police or housing officials is something that is absolutely intolerable. It is a disgraceful policy that the Liberal Party has developed. I have asked the Minister for Housing in the first instance to consult with all of those representative organisations that have at heart the rights and interests of public housing tenants, such as Welfare Rights, the Tenants Union and the Joint Champions Group. I propose that the Minister for Housing, through his department, will write personally to all public housing tenants, all 11½ thousand families that enjoy public housing in the ACT as their homes, in order to outline the proposal, and that he give a categorical assurance that this government will have no part of the Liberal Party’s proposal to allow on-the-spot, unannounced invasion of their properties. I will discuss with him the capacity for a public advertising campaign.

Mrs Burke: What are you going to tell the other tenants?

MR SPEAKER: Order! Mrs Burke, I warn you.

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