Page 477 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 10 February 2009
MS BRESNAN: My question is for the Minister for Disability and Housing and is in regard to the federal government’s stimulus investment in public housing announced last week. What advice has the minister received on using this dramatic investment to ensure the new homes are energy efficient, address the particular needs of residents and are constructed with low-emission materials at a cost-effective price?
MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms Bresnan for the question. You will appreciate that I have not been back in the country for very long. However, I did seek and receive a meeting with Minister Plibersek last evening and we talked about the application of the funds that the stimulus package would provide. We also talked about the way in which the maintenance component of that package might be applied. Essentially, we have been given no riding instructions on the application of the maintenance funding, other than that those funds should be applied to properties which were facing dereliction and which we would need to bring up to prevent the need for the decision to sell or not to sell; in other words, to maintain them as a less lettable property and to bring them up to standard.
It is the ACT government’s view that whenever we do a significant refurbishment of any of our properties we do so with environmental imperatives at the fore. We actually do not say, “We need to repair a stove,” and give it a lick of paint.
I would refer members to the statements we have made already about putting insulation in walls as well as just ceilings. We are hoping that a lot of our tenants and a lot of our people who are considering buying the homes would also have access to the federal government’s insulation package but we are not sure—we will have to check that out with them—as yet. I did not canvass that with her yesterday. I will do that a little later.
As I say, and I want to reiterate, we have not been given the set of restrictions on the types of renovations et cetera that we have to make in order to receive the funding that applies, other than: where our premises are in significant disrepair, we are to bring them back up. What we are interested in doing is having sustainable tenancies. We will be applying them according to our asset management strategy within Housing ACT. In fact, what this will do is allow us, in an accounting sense anyway, to grow the numbers because we will not be disposing of them quite as quickly.
MR SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Bresnan?
MS BRESNAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Given that that is the case, will the minister give a commitment to seek out such advice and table it in the Assembly?
MR HARGREAVES: I would prefer not to have the federal government put chains around my wrists about how to apply funds in the housing portfolio. I think it is a better process to ourselves determine how we will have our properties renovated, particularly when the ACT government—at least this side of the chamber in partnership with the Greens—is committed to having green-friendly premises for our tenants to live in.