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Tuesday, 18 June 1996
Page: 1732

Senator MARGETTS(6.29 p.m.) —As a point of clarification, I thought I would make a few comments on the minister's mention of the reform process and just place on the record what process should not be delayed. There is a definite agenda, and the government has made some changes to this bill with the intention of shifting the provision of public housing from the public sector to the private sector.

The minister is right in saying this was a process which began with the previous government. To some measure, one shift is to lease private sector dwellings which are then rented to tenants. In our opinion that is inefficient since it means the benefit does not ultimately accrue to the public. It seems more sensible for government to purchase a house outright than pay rent on it.

Basically, that is the process. It is a process at odds with what the Industry Commission recommended—that is, more funding be available for decent public housing—and is actually shifting public housing on to private housing. That is what we were getting at with amendment No. 11. Basically, we think that part of it should be a commitment to new housing stock. That does not seem to be the case and, unfortunately, the amendment was not supported.

That is basically the `reform' process that is shifting the emphasis onto the private agenda. Quite frankly, that is probably why there is no connection with the ability to pay. Once you do that it is almost taken out of your hands because it becomes totally market oriented. I am very sorry to see that that is considered to be the reform process we are dealing with.