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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 4 August 2015) . . Page.. 2249 ..

today, and I welcome the discussion around housing policy and around our unprecedented public housing renewal program. Insofar as there is general support for the principles of our approach to public housing, I do welcome the input of the Canberra Liberals in the debate and I also note Ms Lawder’s positive comments yesterday around the release of the evaluation of reforms to the homelessness service system.

Each of us understands the diversity of our public housing community and the complexity of issues facing the sector more broadly and I also like to think we share a belief in providing access to the best possible transport and other services for all Canberrans. This is certainly the government’s commitment.

Let us take a look at the 2015 ACT budget where $496,000 is provided for flexible bus services, catering in particular to ageing people and those with a disability, $264,000 for the Nightrider bus service, rolling out access to Canberra’s one-stop government service shopfronts, major health investments, north side and south side, and $160 million for school upgrades across the ACT. These investments are offering benefits to our public housing tenants across the city and of course also to those in private dwellings.

With this in mind, there is some risk in a broad statement like that in Mr Smyth’s MPI which presumes to know what public housing tenants want or what is best for them. I know it has been a long time since Mr Smyth was housing minister but I do want to remind him of some of the comments he made back in 1999, which was a long time ago. I will remind him of them anyway:

The perfect case is Tuggeranong, where we have some of the longest waiting lists. Contrary to public opinion that all public housing tenants want to live in the CBD, in the centre of Canberra, or in north Canberra, some of our longest waiting lists are in Tuggeranong. We address the public housing waiting list by looking at the mismatches that we have between stock and applicants’ needs and make sure that we can meet those needs where we can.

People on the waiting list apply for a certain suburb or a certain street. They want to be housed in an area that they are very specific about. We have to simply wait until accommodation becomes available and then they are housed. So you need to treat the figures on the list with some wariness, but at the same time Mr Osborne’s question perfectly highlights the dilemma that we face in housing, in that the old stock does not meet the needs of the modern housing tenant.

In this case Mr Smyth is implying that he knows best what housing tenants want. He did in 1999 but he seems to have changed his mind.

I have spent a lot of time this year making the point that as we, the government, renew the ACT housing stock we are doing so in true consultation with our tenants, talking with them, listening to them and acting on what they have to say. This is something I have done at numerous tenant barbeques and information sessions since becoming minister.

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