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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1569

(Question No. 1402)


Mr Ruddock asked the Minister for Territories and Local Government, upon notice , on 4 May 1984:

(1) Are the properties known as No. 14 Hobart Avenue, Forrest, Australian Capital Territory, and No. 39 National Circuit, Forrest, Australian Capital Territory, owned by the Commonwealth.

(2) Is his Department responsible for protecting the Commonwealth's proper interest in its properties from unauthorised and illegal occupation; if not, which Department has that responsibility.

(3) Have the two properties recently been occupied by a group of people claiming to be homeless and unemployed squatters.

(4) Has his Department ascertained who is in occupation; if so, what are their (a) names and (b) circumstances.

(5) Are the people in residence people whose names appear on waiting lists for welfare housing kept by the Department's Housing Branch.

(6) Are the circumstances of the occupants such that they would be entitled to priority listing on Housing Branch waiting lists.

(7) If the occupants' names are not on the waiting lists, are their circumstances such that they would be eligible for inclusion on the waiting lists.

(8) If the occupants' names are on the waiting lists, in the ordinary course of events and assuming they are (a) priority wait-listed or (b) ordinary wait- listed, what is the anticipated time before each occupant receives accommodation .

(9) Has rental been (a) offered or (b) received from the occupants.

(10) Is it a fact that since the occupation of 39 National Circuit (a) electricity has been connected and considerable power has been consumed and (b) ceiling heating has been installed.

(11) Is it a fact that the Australian Capital Territory Electricity Authority has refused to connect electricity to the building as reported in the Canberra Times of 25 April 1984.

(12) If electricity has been connected (a) who authorised the connection, (b) who is paying for the electricity and (c) have the premises been inspected to ensure that the premises, up to now unoccupied for nine years, are safe for electricity use.

(13) If the electricity connection was unauthorised, what action has been taken .

(14) Is it a fact that there are plumbing problems which have been temporarily alleviated by the hire of an 'electric eel'.

(15) Is it also a fact that the sewerage system has not been operating properly and that there was a very unpleasant smell emanating from the buildings; if so, does this problem constitute a significant health risk; if so, what action (a) has the Government taken and (b) does the Government intent to take, to eliminate such a hazard

(16) Are the numbers of occupants using facilities in the buildings such as to constitute a significant health risk.

(17) Has the use of candles by occupants, particularly in 14 Hobart Avenue, constituted a severe fire risk to Commonwealth property.

(18) Did the lease purpose clauses for the properties when originally let provide for their use as single domestic dwellings; if so, is the present usage in contravention of the lease purpose clauses.

(19) What action will be taken by the Government to obtain vacant possession of both premises.


Mr Uren —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) No. The Department of Administrative Services.

(3) Yes, but this is no longer the case.

(4) (a) and (b) I am advised that my Department is only aware of the names and circumstances of those who have applied for Government housing. Details supplied by applicants for housing are treated as confidential and I am not prepared to release them.

(5) Apart from the people referred to in answer (4), this is not known.

(6) Those who applied were considered in priority need.

(7) See answer (4).

(8) (a) and (b) Not applicable.

(9) (a) and (b) No.

(10) (a) yes. (b) No. Ceiling heating was installed in the premises prior to the illegal occupancy.

(11) Yes.

(12) (a) No authorisation was given. (b) The Australian Capital Territory Electricity Authority has advised that the amount will be written off as a bad debt. (c) Yes. The inspection report was provided to the Department of Administrative Services.

(13) No action has been taken.

(14) It is understood that there is a plumbing problem in one area which may require excavation and relaying of sewerage pipes to rectify.

(15) (a) and (b) There is no knowledge of a health risk.

(16) No.

(17) I understand there is no evidence of fire risk from the use of candles.

(18) The original lease purpose clause for both properties stated that the lease holder was to 'use the said property for residential purposes only'. Both leases have now reverted to the Commonwealth.

(19) The Government has obtained vacant possession after most of the people voluntarily moved out. The remaining three also moved out when requested to do so.