Page 518 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Many people I know have taken the opportunity to move house when their landlord has refused to reduce the price of rent because they can get rental accommodation substantially lower than previously.

We face a unique issue in the ACT where we do not have a lot of lower end rental accommodation in the way that you might see it in some of the older cities, where they have some pretty poor standard housing that you can get at a low price. That is something that people have pointed out to me as a real challenge in the ACT—that there is not some of that lower end rental accommodation.

In terms of the urban renewal program, it is worth reflecting on a commitment of the government, on the proposed redevelopment, to being open and transparent with tenants about the government’s plans as to which units will be redeveloped and in what time frame. In the period in which I was the minister we set up LINCT, a task force made up specifically of government and NGO organisations, to advocate on behalf of tenants. Key organisations such as Northside Community Service and other NGOs are a part of that task force. It was specifically set up to make sure that tenants had a voice, particularly through their service providers.

Tenants will be given opportunities to speak up as well, but it would not be an unfair comment to say that some tenants perhaps are not confident in approaching government to make their case. So we set that task force up specifically so that there was a check on government, to make sure that, even if our public servants were making the best effort, there was another channel for feedback to either come back to government or for information to be farmed out.

I was pleased with Ms Berry’s comments, when she became the minister, about the need to talk with tenants, not about them. Certainly, in my time as the minister, I was very frustrated by the amount of chatter that was going on in the public domain by all sorts of other people who had never lived in the Northbourne flats or in other areas about the flats and about the people that lived there. Often there was a failure to recognise that they were in fact people’s homes and communities. So I echo the comments Ms Berry made in her first 24 hours as the minister. I think they were good comments and they underline a commitment by the government to keep working with our tenants as closely as possible. There will be change, and I have acknowledged previously that there will be some difficulty there, but we will work as hard as we can as a government—and Ms Berry has my full support on this—to make sure that tenants are moved in a way that is suitable for them, so that they feel well informed and empowered.

I know that with the first group that we moved out of Dickson flats—there were about 15 to 18 at the time; the number escapes me right now—each tenant was worked with individually. Some of them moved out of the inner north, but they wanted to go to Woden or they wanted to move to Belconnen because that was where they had family. So each tenant got an outcome that was suitable for them. That is the approach Housing ACT is taking and that is the approach I expect will continue. I want particularly to dwell on that point because these are real people. It is their communities and their homes, and we need to not lose sight of that fact as we go through this major urban renewal process.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video