1 March 2022

Probing the polls: public housing changes and working from home in the future

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Has the pandemic permanently changed your work habits? Photo: Gupi de Zavalia.

As the ACT Government refreshes public housing stock across the Territory, the changes are beginning to bite. Long-term tenants, some of whom have lived in their houses for decades, may be asked to move out and move on to other Housing ACT properties.

In recent weeks, many have received letters advising them that while they’ll have a number of options to negotiate for their preferred public housing options, they will nevertheless need to leave their tenancies in the near future.

Some are distressed as they are forced out of family homes, while others argue that the housing is often in urgent need of an upgrade and the tenants are no different from anyone else who rents.

READ MORE Public housing mum broken-hearted at having to leave home of 33 years

We asked, Should the ACT Government make some tenants relocate if it means more public housing? A total of 1102 readers voted.

Your options were to vote No, tenants should not be made to move. This received 24 per cent of the total, or 269 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Yes, increasing public housing is important. This received 76 per cent of the total, or 833 votes.

This week, we’re wondering whether you think we all need to get back into the office, or if working at home at least part of the time is here for good?

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has been emphatic about his belief that hybrid work models are here to stay. And he’s rebuffed suggestions that the Territory Government is putting small business owners out of work in the city centre by enabling them to continue working from home.

The Liberals say that multiple small businesses like cafes, dry cleaners and newsagents will fold if public servants do not return to the office.

But in annual report hearings, Mr Barr argued that the pool of ‘white collar’ CBD public servants affected by hybrid work models is too small to have an impact, adding that the vast majority of public service workers in the city centre are, in any case, employed by the Commonwealth.

READ MORE Public servants are not ‘consumer fodder’: Barr hits back at hybrid-working criticism

Opinions were equally divided among readers.

Ashley Kerlin said: “I’ll never return to the office. I now live 2.5 hours from it. There are 120 people now domiciled to the office that has 38 desks. The agency is saving a motza. As for supporting small businesses, I now support the café just down the street from my home etc.”

But Ben Jones argued that “Access Canberra has shown that this model isn’t working”.

“Try getting anything done with any service there during COVID. Wait times have ballooned out at all their services. Working from home doesn’t make people more productive.”

Our poll question this week is:

Do we need to go back to full-time work in the office?

  • No, the pandemic has changed our work habits for good (68%, 785 Votes)
  • Yes, it's time to move on and revive small business too (32%, 371 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,156

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I’m mums cater and was lucky enough to split days between the office and home before the pandemic. Now I’m home full time and it makes life so much easier. I think people should have the choice.

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