Page 2676 - Week 07 - Thursday, 3 July 2008

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very pleased about that—but what I do not understand is why the minister or the department did not, as a matter of course, simply email the five or 10 community housing providers in the ACT with a media release announcing that the bill was tabled. To many, that would be a reasonable courtesy.

This is not the first time we have run up against this issue. When government is changing the governance arrangements of service providers it works with, it really should show the courtesy of keeping those organisations in the loop. Maybe government could provide a service for the public to subscribe to that sends out email alerts when legislation is tabled.

This is not just about courtesy. In this case, these organisations are partners as providers of social housing—community organisations as partners with government—and they deserve respect because they are right there where the issues are. You might say that they are at ground zero of housing provision in the ACT.

It seems natural to me that the government would work with the community housing providers as it appears to have done with Community Housing Canberra, Canberra’s one affordable housing provider, in developing the detailed provisions of relevant legislation.

At the very least, however, I would love to have an explanation why it was neither possible nor desirable for the minister or the department or the commissioner, indeed, who is about to get enormous power over these organisations, to show the simple courtesy of letting their community partners know that the bill, which gave a legal form to previous consultation, had been tabled in the Assembly. Why is that too hard? And is it only too hard for the government to show that courtesy to some organisations and for some sectors in the community?

While I am happy to support this bill in principle, I believe the community housing providers, who have now been alerted to it by my office, should have the time to consider its provisions and to negotiate with government or to progress amendments through my office. I want to thank the minister, who came down to see me this morning, for agreeing to adjourn this debate after the in-principle stage. I am really hoping that during this delay the department or the minister’s office will go out and talk about the legislation to the community groups that are affected by this legislation. I know that my office will.

As a result, it is quite possible that amendments will be tabled, hopefully by the minister but, if not, probably by my own office. After the brief and very shallow consultation that we have done at the moment, given the time constraints, there are indications of concerns that will need addressing in the detail stage.

MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (11.29): The opposition will be supporting this legislation in principle. I have also had discussions with the minister and I understand we will be adjourning the debate after the in-principle stage, at which time we will have further briefings, and we may well bring back some amendments. I put that on the record. Certainly, it is worth going through our approach to the legislation as a whole and putting some of our concerns on the record

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