Page 2251 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 4 August 2015

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Right across the housing spectrum, the principles of equality and inclusion remain very strong in our government’s commitment. Our public housing system has a proud history of helping those who are doing it tough to be contributing members of our community, and this will continue.

Equally, the government will keep looking to innovate and seek solutions to the challenges of homelessness and housing affordability. For example, the exciting new Common Ground development in Gungahlin includes support services on site, as does the new project, independence disability accommodation, in Latham and Harrison. The government’s public housing renewal program is an ambitious initiative that will help ensure that public housing better meets the needs of our tenants.

What I would welcome is an equally strong policy commitment from the opposition, one which goes beyond the usual rhetoric. If they do not want old public housing to be renewed then what are their plans for it? If they do not like the locations the government has identified for new public housing stock, what are their preferred sites? If they would terminate our asset recycling agreement with the commonwealth, together with the capital metro contract, then let the people know. The Assembly can be confident that the government’s commitment to following through on our commitments in housing is strong and ongoing. By extension, it provides a major pillar of a strong and inclusive community heading into the future, a continuation of the vital role housing has played in Canberra establishing itself as the most livable city in the world.

As the evaluation released yesterday shows, the government’s investments and policy platforms are continuing our strong record in this area and I welcome the opportunity to speak to them this afternoon.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo—Minister for Territory and Municipal Services, Minister for Justice, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister assisting the Chief Minister on Transport Reform) (4.15): I welcome Mr Smyth bringing this matter to the Assembly this afternoon. It is positive to see the Canberra Liberals talking of the importance of a better connected Canberra. This MPI in particular, with its focus on both public housing and public transport, has those two areas which are very close to the ACT Greens’ heart. I am therefore happy to be having this conversation this afternoon.

As Mr Smyth is well aware and as Minister Berry has articulated, the largest public housing renewal program the ACT has ever seen is currently underway. This program will create more public housing across the entire territory and provide much more suitable and sustainable housing for our current and future tenants. The renewal program will see a reduction in the concentrations of disadvantage that we have seen in some of our larger multi-unit properties and increase the scope of the existing salt-and-pepper approach to social inclusion in the placement of new or replacement stock.

This program is not without its challenges, as some suburbs of Canberra will see an increase in social and public housing developments. But it is important to state from the outset that public housing tenants, just like everyone else, have lives, jobs and family commitments and engagements right across the different parts of Canberra.

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