Page 1344 - Week 04 - Thursday, 10 April 2008
housing complexes. I think that this is a wise move and that the government should take it to the next logical step and review the value of existing large public housing complexes. I do not think that it is rocket science that in large complexes it is easy for the minority of problem tenants to cause problems for a large number of their neighbours and the surrounding community.
I certainly would not wish to insinuate that all public housing tenants are guilty of such unruly behaviour; in fact, I believe that it is a fairly small minority of tenants that cause trouble for others. But I am horrified when I see the number of police call-outs that have had to occur in some cases and the number of ambulance visits and the number of fire visits alone in the month of February to one complex. These complexes do not suit many tenants. If they can be sold off and replaced with more suitable public facilities, this is a good thing. The sale of Fraser Court will, if media reports are correct, bring in pretty substantial revenue. This revenue can be used to purchase public housing stock that is better matched to the needs of the ACT community.
I do not want to attack public housing tenants. The vast majority of tenants do not cause problems and fulfil their obligations. There is a minority, however, that we are all aware of, who cause considerable problems to the majority in the surrounding community. Reviewing the suitability of large housing complexes for public housing is one way that the government can reduce this particular impact.
I welcome news of the sale of Fraser Court and urge the government to use the sale as a stimulus to review the worth of all similar housing complexes.
Earlier in my career, I had the opportunity to work for the Premier of Victoria, the late Sir Rupert Hamer. Under the Bolte government, Victoria experimented with the idea of high-rise complexes, a number of which still stand in Richmond. These became nothing short of war zones. Building these facilities is a concept from the 1970s that has since been proven to be an absolute disaster in terms of social community and civil conduct.
In my career, I also lived in Chicago, where the Cabrini-Green complex was probably rated as the worst public housing complex in the United States. It was not even an area that one could catch a bus through in the daytime, because of sharpshooters shooting at passengers on buses and the like. Burnt-out apartments were a feature of this complex. I think now it has been almost totally demolished and redeveloped as a site. Certainly the idea of putting large numbers of disadvantaged people in one high-rise complex or multi-unit complex has been seen as very poor social policy. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that these things should never have been constructed.
I hope that the minister will accelerate the sale of Stuart Flats and the removal of the Red Hill public housing complex. I know that undertaking was not given in such detail today, but I hope that this is going to happen soon—for the sake of the people who are living there and who are law abiding and cannot cope with this any more and for the sake of the people who are in private accommodation in close proximity to these complexes who continually raise matters of concern with me and other members of the Assembly.