Page 1354 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Minister for Housing, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Community Services, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Women and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Social Inclusion and Equality) (10.14): I thank Ms Fitzharris for bringing this motion forward today. It is good to have a discussion on public housing, and it is timely to have that conversation here today.

Canberra has a proud tradition of providing public housing, one which has always enjoyed a fair degree of bipartisan support. This motion provides the opportunity for all parties to affirm their support for the fundamental principles of public housing in our city—in its distribution across Canberra, in the way we prioritise those with the highest need, in the inclusion of public housing tenants as important members of our suburbs and communities and as people who contribute and belong. While we welcome constructive debate on the different elements of housing policy, I do hope we can maintain general consensus on these principles.

I spent a good part of my childhood in public housing. Most of my neighbours and friends were in public housing; many still are. Growing up, this helped to shape my belief in its value both for tenants and for communities. It played a key role in Canberra’s early development and remains an important influence in shaping the city we know today.

Public housing continues to play a vital role in providing accommodation to people on low incomes and supporting those who have the greatest need. It provides a solid foundation for social and economic participation. It remains a crucial element of the social safety net for those who find themselves isolated or marginalised. It is a sign of a prosperous and generous society which believes in supporting those who might be less fortunate. And it is a fundamental part of our government’s commitment to fairness, inclusion and equality.

Looking into the future, the renewal program for public housing in the ACT will be a key part of our investment in delivering on these principles. This new housing will be modern, well designed, efficient and better suited to tenants’ needs. All properties will incorporate energy and water efficient features, appliances and technology. The aim is to achieve at least gold standard livable design or C-class building standards for housing for people with a disability.

The public housing renewal program is ambitious. It is a significant increase in public housing replacement, initially replacing 1,288 properties. Given the size of the program, many residents will not be immediately affected and it may be a number of years before they need to move.

Yesterday Ms Lawder spoke in the adjournment debate about the need to keep consulting and having conversations with tenants throughout this process. I agree, and I have made this a priority for the way we manage it. She spoke of these tenants as people, as Canberrans, as equals—and this is something that, as MLAs, we always need to do, even when it might cast them in a different light. Condoning unfair and untrue generalisations around antisocial behaviour or danger when it comes to public housing tenants is something we all need to avoid. And it is especially unfair when we are talking about our most senior citizens or those living with disabilities.

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