Page 802 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 18 March 2015

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The key issues for Oaks Estate residents are as outlined in this motion: the rising levels of crime; the increasing social disadvantage due to changing demographics; and the increasing isolation for public housing residents, who have no means of transport but are being directed to live in an area without affordable and accessible public transport. The issues affecting Oaks Estate are not new. They have been identified in successive planning studies, and each time recommendations are agreed, they appear to get conveniently shelved until the next round of consultation or community engagement and planning.

Take public housing, admittedly always a subject with the potential to give rise to passionate and heated debate. The issue of the amount of public housing in Oaks Estate has been contentious for some years. The common cry in defence of public housing is that it has to go somewhere. For Oaks Estate residents, their justifiable response could be: “But why does there have to be such a high percentage in our village?”

As I said, this is not a new subject for Oaks Estate, and it is one that residents raise cautiously. The 2001 planning study listed 12 recommendations for the suburb. The first was to reduce the amount of public housing to match the Canberra average. That was 14 years ago. The situation has not changed. Some could say it has just continuously worsened.

Whether you believe the ABS and Allhomes statistics that suggest that around 28 to 30 per cent of residential housing is public or whether you believe residents’ locally based research that suggests something much higher, the reality is that it is two to three times higher than the ACT average. That brings with it a range of issues. It is usual practice for public housing to be placed in areas that are close to community centres, shops and transport. None of that is easily accessible from Oaks Estate. And when a higher than average percentage of the community fits into a category requiring access to public health and community services, that accelerates the social isolation and disadvantage that some residents feel. Just on the note of shopping centres, when I visited Oaks Estate I saw one shop, and that was predominantly a bottle shop.

This is an area that is geographically isolated from major centres in Canberra where support is given. If there is just one example, and there are many to choose from, to demonstrate the years of consistent and persistent neglect by this government of Canberra families living in Oaks Estate, it is the ongoing saga of buses. Many people in Canberra are critical of the ACTION bus service. There are complaints about frequency and reliability and, more recently, numerous complaints about changed bus routes. For the people of Oaks Estate, their complaint about the bus service is far simpler: there just is not one. Mr Rattenbury, you have to take a lot of credit for this—or blame, as the case may be. You wrote to the—

Mr Gentleman: Madam Deputy Speaker—

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: On a point of order. Would you sit down, please, Mr Doszpot.

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