Page 1362 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 May 2015

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As we begin the large task of working with existing tenants to identify areas of priority and suitability for transfer of their leases, we also need to redefine the best-practice approach to building new accommodation. We can now build affordable, more sustainable six-star energy efficient houses that will reduce the burden on the tenants’ living expenses, improve their health and comfort, and reduce the impacts on the environment.

We will also build smaller clusters, more manageable and easier to maintain units. There are some fantastic examples of this already in the inner north—clusters of apartments, townhouses, and other forms with between 12 to 20 units. These new units are nestled in amongst private developments, and walking by you would never be able to spot the difference. This new approach has seen a reduction in antisocial behaviour, provided greater dignity to Housing ACT tenants and reduced some of the negative stereotypes sometimes unfortunately attributed to them.

Tens of thousands of Canberrans live in public housing, and the vast majority of them participate in the quiet enjoyment of their rental properties, as we all do. Of course, there are also some tenants who may present with more complex needs that require increased support to maintain their tenancies. But that, to me, is a sign that we are providing the right kinds of support at the right time, and secure housing is such an essential part of that support.

As we redevelop housing sites around Canberra to maintain our salt and pepper approach and modernise our housing stock, I ask Canberrans to pause and think about the purpose of providing accommodation to those in need. We need to challenge the occasional negative stereotype and look instead to helping those who are doing it tough. There will be housing going into areas that perhaps have not had public housing or, more likely, into areas that do not have public housing that neighbours have had an idea of because there has been no reason to think of the tenants as anything other than just neighbours.

I also ask that those local communities consider these new developments with respect and compassion. With the appropriate community consultation and the thorough planning mechanisms available to government, I urge people to engage with the process and look to the broader social, economic and environmental benefits these new models will bring to the city. I believe and the Greens believe our city is stronger and better for the spread of public housing. That is why I am pleased to support the motion put forward by Ms Fitzharris today.

MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (10.47), in reply: I thank my colleagues across the Assembly for their support of this important motion. I would like to summarise some of the discussion that we have had today, which goes to clear support for public housing in our community from all parties represented in this Assembly.

My colleagues Minister Berry and the Chief Minister stated that we need to see a general consensus on this issue—that we need to see general consensus on public housing continuing to be spread across our community, for a number of different reasons. Today we have had a strong indication of that support.

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