Page 461 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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Our public housing tenants deserve better than Bega and Strathgordon Court. They deserve better than the Currong and Allawah apartments. They deserve better than the Dickson flats, the Northbourne flats, the Owen flats, the Stuart flats and the Red Hill flats. And that is why my government will replace them all, to give all our public housing tenants homes they can be proud of and homes that our whole community can be proud to provide. Like the Labor governments before us, my government is committed to public housing as an important strategy in tackling poverty and social disadvantage. That is what good governments do. They support their most vulnerable.

Through the public housing asset management strategy the government has committed to the renewal of its public housing portfolio to ensure the provision of sustainable and suitable public housing in the ACT by reducing maintenance costs and building accommodation that aligns with tenants’ needs. As we break down concentrations of disadvantage, we will create better amenity in our suburbs and a better way of life for our most vulnerable. So in renewing our public housing stock we have to think about all Canberrans, no matter where they fall on the housing spectrum. Redeveloping outdated public housing stock across the territory creates the opportunity to increase the range of housing options for the whole community.

My government will not just invest in public housing. We will do so in a way that drives the urban renewal of our city and improves the range of housing choices for ACT residents, and this, critically, includes more affordable housing, more options for ageing in place and adaptable and accessible dwellings. It provides increased choice for Canberrans. It enables increased densities around transport corridors and group and town centres to support their ongoing viability.

We should continue to be proud of the city that Canberra has been and what it can become but, of course, we always must have an eye to the future. We should not be proud of co-locating large numbers of disadvantaged people in one location. The gateway to our city shows contempt for the needs of the most vulnerable and we need to move on from the world view of the 1960s. Canberra deserves a gateway of which we can all be proud, one that signals we are an inclusive community, a community that provides a range of housing options for all of its residents, a gateway that says that we are a confident, bold and ready city. And that is exactly what the ACT government are committed to through our urban renewal agenda.

While we must always be mindful of the legacy of planning and development that has shaped our city, we simply cannot remain static and let Canberra become an epitaph of an outmoded, mid-20th century mindset. The government understands the importance of Canberra’s unique characteristics and natural assets, our traditional built forms and our iconic landmarks. As a young city we do not have large tracts of grand Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian buildings to give us a sense of continuing architectural heritage. But that does not mean we have to hold onto buildings that are past their use-by date, particularly when there is overwhelming community support for their demolition and redevelopment.

There are a plethora of ways in which we can document the significance of buildings to the ACT’s cultural heritage without leaving them all standing. We have a clear idea

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