Page 4194 - Week 11 - Thursday, 17 Sept 2009

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MS BURCH: My question is to the minister for housing. You announced yesterday the $67 million ACT component of stage 2 of the commonwealth government’s social housing stimulus package. Could you please advise the Assembly what effect this investment will have on the ACT?

MR HARGREAVES: I thank Ms Burch for the question. Yesterday I announced the successful stage 2 projects of the Rudd government’s economic stimulus package. Stage 2 of the national building economic stimulus package will provide 293 new public and community housing properties in the ACT, at a cost of $76 million. The number of homes purchased or constructed under stages 1 and 2 will now total 350. Of these, 115 dwellings will be built by or for community housing providers and 155 will be constructed especially for older Canberrans.

The stimulus package has provided the ACT with an unprecedented opportunity to provide suitably located quality accommodation for older Canberrans and yesterday I announced that, under stage 2, community facilities land will be utilised for the construction of 132 two-bedroom units, providing supported accommodation for older people. In fact, we have been able to capitalise on the stimulus funding to increase the number of older persons units to a level that was more than required by us of the commonwealth.

With the rapidly ageing demographic in Canberra, there is an increasing demand for well-located two-bedroom properties in both the public and private sectors. This will enable ageing in place, offering security, independence and uninterrupted family and social connections—something, as I have said, which is very important to older Canberrans.

Finally, community housing has also received a massive boost under stage 2 of the stimulus. The successful stage 2 community housing providers are the Salvation Army, St Margaret’s Uniting Church, Community Housing Canberra, BlueCHP, which is an organisation formed from five regional New South Wales community housing providers, and Eco.

All houses in stage 2 and all of those, where possible, in stage 1 will have six-star energy ratings, with specific sustainability inclusions. Many will be built to a universal design. It was the decision of this government to extend the stage 2 requirements on this to stage 1 properties. Thirty-three of the 57 stage 1 properties are being worked on, with one already completed in Tallara Parkway, Narrabundah. The ACT government too is making significant contribution to this unprecedented construction partnership both in land and investments totalling $11.9 million.

This is a social and economic opportunity that will deliver deep and lasting rewards for all Canberrans, and I am gobsmacked that the Liberal Party voted against the stimulus package in the federal parliament—opposition for opposition’s sake at the federal level too, it seems. I strongly urge the Canberra Liberals to advise their federal leader, Mr 16 per cent popularity, of the error of his decision.

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