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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 22 August 2017) . . Page.. 3128 ..

Several inquiries into bushfire response have stressed the importance of improving quick access to unplanned fires with the appropriate equipment. This budget allocates over $3 million to improve our capacity for fire suppression and fire hazard reduction. The initiative will involve widening the existing fire trail network in the ACT, upgrading the Northern Clear Range and Naas Valley fire trails within strategic areas in the south of Namadgi national park and feasibility assessments and construction on the east-west strategic break fire trail and the Booth Range to Naas link fire trail within the Cotter Catchment. These projects will allow better access for heavy tankers and earthmoving machinery and form a better firebreak as a defence during prescribed burning.

With this budget, the ACT government continues to demonstrate its commitment to supporting sustainable economic growth while protecting our wide variety of wildlife and preserving Canberra’s unique character as the bush capital.

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (4.27): This appropriation contains the funds for the public housing renewal program, as depicted in budget paper 3 and budget statement E. The budget papers tell us that this government’s total investment in the public housing renewal program will be $608 million, with $295 million of capital spending earmarked for this purpose in the next four years.

The provision of 1,288 replacement dwellings for residents of older public housing, much of it on or around the Northbourne Avenue corridor, is, it must be said, a pretty impressive objective. This quantum far exceeds the size of a lot of country towns and it is no mean feat. The precincts being vacated are reasonably old and I have no doubt that residents have welcomed the prospect of more comfortable housing with better facilities and energy usage.

Whether they have welcomed an uplift from the centre of Canberra, where they are close to major employment centres, transport hubs, shopping complexes and community support organisations, is far less apparent at this stage. A large number of people who are used to having close access to our city’s hub are being dispersed into locations and situations they will be quite unaccustomed to, and many other homeless people in the Northbourne precinct could very well be and, indeed, from the sounds that we are getting back from the ground, are being displaced.

The government has stated on many occasions that it was committed to a salt and pepper approach to the distribution of public housing. Successive ministers have defined the nature of this. For example, if we go back to 2014 Mr Rattenbury, in this context, said:

The approach now is to develop sites that tend to be more a dozen or perhaps 15 units together, and the experience is that they are much more effective. They provide a better living environment and, of course, as you have touched on—

continuing quoting from Mr Rattenbury—

they are more modern, they are more comfortable.

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