Page 514 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

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The federal government is being evasive and not guaranteeing a continuation of funding under the national partnership agreement on homelessness, which is due to expire on 30 June this year. If this funding is not renewed soon, front-line services to people facing homelessness are at serious risk. The question will not be about people exiting these services; the question will be that these services will not be available for people in need at all. This is not acceptable. I encourage Ms Lawder and those opposite to join with the government in lobbying their federal Liberal colleagues for an immediate commitment to the continuation of this funding.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I look forward to returning to this place in March to provide a detailed statement on the government’s public housing and homelessness programs, including the work that we are doing in housing renewal, homelessness services, assistance for vulnerable groups and maintenance and upgrades of the existing public housing stock. I commend my amendment to the motion to the Assembly.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Urban Renewal and Minister for Tourism and Events) (4.41): I am pleased to rise again this afternoon to talk about this Labor government’s work in doing the right thing by Canberra’s public housing tenants and those who are seeking a home by refreshing and renewing our city’s public housing stock.

I spoke this morning about the importance of renewing public housing stock, and also in question time. I spoke about our city’s long and proud history of public housing—how it was critical in our city’s early days as we sprang into being, and how it continues to be something that Canberra values today. I spoke about our long history of public housing and the legacy that comes with that. Much of our public housing stock is now ageing and has reached the end of its useful life.

The housing stock on Northbourne Avenue, in particular, which was appropriate as temporary accommodation for newly arrived public servants half a century ago, is simply inadequate for modern public housing. These properties have done an important job. But let’s face it: they were built quickly, to the standards of a different era, and the world has moved on.

My government is determined that our public housing tenants should live in homes that meet modern standards. We aim to deliver a public housing system that the wider Canberra community can be proud of. I also want our city to have an entry gateway that shouts to the world what a city we are becoming.

Our approach to public housing considers the needs of Canberrans across the housing spectrum. Our urban and public housing renewal agenda will provide more affordable housing options for Canberrans, more flexible housing options for Canberrans and more age and disability friendly options for Canberrans.

My government is proud to deliver decent public housing to our tenants. It is also a government that is proud to support Canberrans who are going through tough times to get back on their feet. Sadly, this is not an approach taken by every political party.

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