11 July 2017

Public housing furore reflects true cost of tram

| Greg Cornwell
Join the conversation
29
Broken piggy bank

Is Canberra in financial strife as a result of the light rail project?

Recent big-ticket cancellations like that of the planned convention centre, confusion about whether a new sports stadium will be built and then the Government’s initial refusal to fund SHOUT a trifling $110,000 raise concerns that the ‘progressive’ development of our city is stalling.

And it’s not just the fact that there have been adjustments to expenditure. Our Government is looking to increase its income via land sale profits by a smart – some might say sneaky – manoeuvre.

Changes to the Territory Plan some years ago altered the definition of ‘supportive’ housing – homes for aged or disabled residents – to include the broader term ‘social housing’, which meant that land previously set aside for the aged or disabled could now be used for general public housing.

The Government pays nothing for this land, which means it can move all public housing tenants, i.e. those in ‘social housing’, from prime land sites along Northbourne Avenue, and then sell it off to developers for a handsome profit.

Residents of suburbs in which this unexpected community land switch is occurring such as Holder and Chapman have protested at the lack of prior consultation, but the Government says the sites are not negotiable. This is a worrying development because the Government’s action could be repeated all over Canberra, again without appeal.

Perhaps as a sign of future expansion into the suburbs is the recently announced first ‘urban renewal precinct’, which will be developed at the minister’s discretion, along the Northbourne Avenue corridor. It incorporates far more than that valuable strip, taking in land from Flemington Road down to and including Civic, parts of Dickson, Braddon, Turner and the ANU.

How many moveable public facilities exist in this broad area is unknown but again, it affords our Government the opportunity to relocate its tenants to free land elsewhere and sell off in-demand central sites to developers.

The loss of community facility land from Canberra’s suburbs will include open recreation space, which whether formalised or not has long been accepted as such by local communities. For the relocated public housing tenants, access to shops probably not as convenient as the current Northbourne Avenue sites, however, the extra custom will be welcomed by the suburban shopkeepers.

The ACT Government would also see the potential of extra Labor votes in more marginal electorates too. On balance however, the suburbs lose. More pepper than salt methinks.

Flushed from its October 2016 election victory there is arrogance in the ACT Government which has the potential to fatally damage the Bush Capital image.

The Manuka Oval saga is not over, a stoush is ahead at the Italo-Australian site in Forrest, Yarralumla shows pretty pictures of the brickworks (interest declared) not the outside development and skyscraper-like proposals are floated for town centres.

Cutting back on expenditure, relocating public tenants, selling off prime real estate … How much is the tram really costing?

Join the conversation

29
All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments
Latest

dungfungus said :

Chris Steel MLA said :

You forget Mr Cornwell, that you were part of a Liberal Government that cut around 1000 public housing dwellings from our stock without replacing them.

We reject that approach. The Labor Government’s long term policy of public housing renewal called the ‘Public housing asset management strategy 2012-2017’ has the goal of reducing concentrations of disadvantage through public housing redevelopment and aligning housing with changing social structures and tenant needs. We are not simply selling off stock as your Government did, but reinvesting in new stock.

This and previous strategies have had a consistent focus for years on reducing concentrations of disadvantage. So this is not the first time that tenants have been moved into more suitable, lower density and better quality accommodation.

Northbourne flats are only the latest part of the renewal, with Burnie Court in Lyons and others having also been redeveloped to provide better quality public housing for residents. Strathgordon Court in Lyons is another one on the Southside that is on the renewal list over the forward estimates.

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Any development with identifying the other 590 yet, Chris?

Garfield said :

Are you on ACT Labor’s payroll? The reason I ask is that your arrogant dismissal of community concerns about the loss of CFZ land exactly matches that of Barr and his government.

I’m not on any political partys payroll, and I am not a member of a political party. But your comment reeks of the politicisation of a community issue. You are perfectly entitled to your view, but portraying my view as arrogance is just staggering.

I agree with the Chief Minister on this issue, but here is the kicker – he is saying what many people think – that public housing is a community use.

Garfield said :

You mention land use changes, but there weren’t any. When land is rezoned there’s public consultation and the opportunity to submit objections. This is why I specifically mentioned the technical amendment of 2015 and that technical amendments are not supposed to significantly change the interpretation. That is why there was no Opposition or public outcry at the time. Public housing could not be built on CFZ land before the amendment and as it was only a technical amendment it should not be able to be built there afterwards.

I still can’t see how this is an issue. It is a change in the way community land is used. A change that provides greater flexibility and more options for public housing in the community. Surely more options are better?

Garfield said :

You keep harking on $80m p.a. only being a small hit to the budget, but we all know that’s only for stage 1 and the auditors estimated full cost for stage 1 was $1.78bn or $89m p.a. over 20 years. The government is pressing ahead with stage 2 and they will no doubt press on with the remaining stages unless they lose an election. Stage 1 is presumably the most viable stage and so it’s reasonable to assume those other stages will cost at least as much. That will take the cost of the LR network to $445m+ p.a. for 20 years. Additionally we’ll still be stuck with the $120m+ subsidy for the buses as LR will take the profitable trunk routes. We’re talking about roughly quintupling the cost of providing public transport to the territory in a time where government revenue should only double, assuming taxation is kept in line with population growth and inflation. The budget will not be able to sustain that sort of increase without even bigger tax increases than we’ve seen recently or even bigger deficits.

I keep trying to bring a sense of balance to catastrophisation prophecies masquerading as fact. Over the course of the contract its around $80m a year. The only contract signed to date is for stage one. Any future stage needs a business case to be endorsed, and then figures for those stages will be known.

Fundamentally the difference in how we are assessing public transport infrastructure spending is that I view it as an investment and you only see the cost.

Damien Haas said :

Garfield said :

If you don’t believe there’s a furore about new public housing precincts on CFZ land, go talk to some of the people who purchased land in Molonglo after being told the CFZ land there was going to become a community centre.

I’m not sure a few NIMBY’s opposed to public housing are representative of the Canberra population. I saw the TV news report of the “March on the Assembly” by the Chapman NIMBYS and there was less than half a dozen – including a pet dog.

Garfield said :

The new public housing is linked to light rail financially due to the proceeds of the sale of public housing properties in the corridor being earmarked for the lump sum payment to the consortium, as you yourself have mentioned previously on this website. The government is not reinvesting the proceeds from the sale of public housing into new public housing, but into LR.

Under the Federal Liberal Asset Recycling scheme the funds raised can only be used on assets that will generate economic productivity. Light rail is the program that the Federal Liberal government endorsed for the asset recycling funds to be used on.

There is already a program in place and budgeted for, that provides for new public housing stock to be purchased. It operates year in, year out.

Garfield said :

The government has chosen to place new public housing on CFZ land, which has not happened in the past. They are relying on an interpretation of a technical amendment from 2015. Technical amendments are not supposed to change the substance of legislation, yet somehow prior to the amendment and 2016 election, public housing could not be placed on CFZ land, but now it can. They have not chosen to purchase existing blocks and they have not chosen to use as yet unreleased residential land for the new public housing. Both could have been financially viable options if the sale of existing stock was reinvested into more public housing. It seems the cost of LR has encouraged the government to take the cheap and possibly dubious option of turning CFZ land into residential land for public housing.

As I said, the asset recycling funds can only be used for light rail.

The general community are quite comfortable with public land being used for public housing. Land use changes occur all the time. The Liberal opposition in the Assembly didn’t say a word at the time of the changes. Surely if there was such public concern it would have been raised at the time? No one said anything.

Garfield said :

The ACT is still in deficit and likely to remain so according to the auditor general. There’s only so long a government can remain in deficit and $80m p.a. for each LR stage, of which there are 5 major ones planned, plus the existing bus subsidy is going to see the public transport cost to the budget explode exponentially.

Health and education consume nearly 60% of the ACT Budget, that is now over $6 Billion a year. Light rail at a tiny $80m a year will not impact the deficit in any meaningful way.

As a technology known to attract investment, employment and economic activity in addition to the many transport benefits it delivers – light rail will help boost the economy. Money spent on it is definitely an investment in Canberra’s future.

… (continued)
You mention land use changes, but there weren’t any. When land is rezoned there’s public consultation and the opportunity to submit objections. This is why I specifically mentioned the technical amendment of 2015 and that technical amendments are not supposed to significantly change the interpretation. That is why there was no Opposition or public outcry at the time. Public housing could not be built on CFZ land before the amendment and as it was only a technical amendment it should not be able to be built there afterwards.

You keep harking on $80m p.a. only being a small hit to the budget, but we all know that’s only for stage 1 and the auditors estimated full cost for stage 1 was $1.78bn or $89m p.a. over 20 years. The government is pressing ahead with stage 2 and they will no doubt press on with the remaining stages unless they lose an election. Stage 1 is presumably the most viable stage and so it’s reasonable to assume those other stages will cost at least as much. That will take the cost of the LR network to $445m+ p.a. for 20 years. Additionally we’ll still be stuck with the $120m+ subsidy for the buses as LR will take the profitable trunk routes. We’re talking about roughly quintupling the cost of providing public transport to the territory in a time where government revenue should only double, assuming taxation is kept in line with population growth and inflation. The budget will not be able to sustain that sort of increase without even bigger tax increases than we’ve seen recently or even bigger deficits.

Damien Haas said :

Garfield said :

If you don’t believe there’s a furore about new public housing precincts on CFZ land, go talk to some of the people who purchased land in Molonglo after being told the CFZ land there was going to become a community centre.

I’m not sure a few NIMBY’s opposed to public housing are representative of the Canberra population. I saw the TV news report of the “March on the Assembly” by the Chapman NIMBYS and there was less than half a dozen – including a pet dog.

Garfield said :

The new public housing is linked to light rail financially due to the proceeds of the sale of public housing properties in the corridor being earmarked for the lump sum payment to the consortium, as you yourself have mentioned previously on this website. The government is not reinvesting the proceeds from the sale of public housing into new public housing, but into LR.

Under the Federal Liberal Asset Recycling scheme the funds raised can only be used on assets that will generate economic productivity. Light rail is the program that the Federal Liberal government endorsed for the asset recycling funds to be used on.

There is already a program in place and budgeted for, that provides for new public housing stock to be purchased. It operates year in, year out.

Garfield said :

The government has chosen to place new public housing on CFZ land, which has not happened in the past. They are relying on an interpretation of a technical amendment from 2015. Technical amendments are not supposed to change the substance of legislation, yet somehow prior to the amendment and 2016 election, public housing could not be placed on CFZ land, but now it can. They have not chosen to purchase existing blocks and they have not chosen to use as yet unreleased residential land for the new public housing. Both could have been financially viable options if the sale of existing stock was reinvested into more public housing. It seems the cost of LR has encouraged the government to take the cheap and possibly dubious option of turning CFZ land into residential land for public housing.

As I said, the asset recycling funds can only be used for light rail.

The general community are quite comfortable with public land being used for public housing. Land use changes occur all the time. The Liberal opposition in the Assembly didn’t say a word at the time of the changes. Surely if there was such public concern it would have been raised at the time? No one said anything.

Garfield said :

The ACT is still in deficit and likely to remain so according to the auditor general. There’s only so long a government can remain in deficit and $80m p.a. for each LR stage, of which there are 5 major ones planned, plus the existing bus subsidy is going to see the public transport cost to the budget explode exponentially.

Health and education consume nearly 60% of the ACT Budget, that is now over $6 Billion a year. Light rail at a tiny $80m a year will not impact the deficit in any meaningful way.

As a technology known to attract investment, employment and economic activity in addition to the many transport benefits it delivers – light rail will help boost the economy. Money spent on it is definitely an investment in Canberra’s future.

Are you on ACT Labor’s payroll? The reason I ask is that your arrogant dismissal of community concerns about the loss of CFZ land exactly matches that of Barr and his government. In Wright there was exactly 1 parcel of land set aside for community facilities. I spoke to a friend of a friend two months ago who bought land in Wright and one of the key selling points was that land was going to become some sort of community centre, according to the LDA people they spoke to. Now as we know its going to become more residential land and there will not be any community facilities in the suburb. Objecting to the loss of promised community facilities is not being an anti public housing NIMBY. The community council meeting after the announcement was overflowing and the petition presented by those marchers you dismiss had 900 signatures on it and was only in relation to the Chapman site being unsuitable because its in a bush fire zone.

The government has been claiming the sale of public housing in the corridor will help defray the costs of stage 1, while conveniently ignoring the additional cost of funding replacement public housing as there is no reinvestment from those sales. The scheme in place that operates year in year out to acquire new public housing can’t replace many hundreds of homes lost to LR without those funds being reinvested into new public housing, and we know they’re not. So the government is making use of CFZ land for the first time ever for public housing.

TBC …

John Moulis said :

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Baringa gardens demolition would have been around this time. There would be a fair amount of the 1000.

Actually, 410 units made up Baringa Gardens and it was vacated progressively before the social expiriment disaster was demolished so there must have been available public accommodation available elsewhere in Canberra at the time.
https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10450-25484274/canberra-times-act

Snapshot of Baringa Gardens at Melba from Hansard, 15th October 1991:

“A typical social mix. Poor public and self image Isolation. High density. Low level of privacy. Poor traffic planning. Unenforced lease conditions. Lack of maintenance. Vandalism. Dogs. Physical: Inadequate heating/ ventilation. Condensation. Water penetration. Mould. Dampness. Poor orientation. Inadequate landscaping.
Prototype Upgrade: 377 of the 795 residents (47.5%0) living at Melba one year previously. Low income, high unemployment. Flats used for priority and emergency housing – short stays.”

It had to be demolished on building related health issues alone; just like Labor’s decision to demolish over 1,000 privately owned Mr Fluffy houses.

Ah Baringa Gardens, I’d almost forgotten about it. I think everybody who lived in Canberra at the time has a Baringa Gardens story to tell. Mine is how the crime rate was so high police declared it a no-go area and when word spread around the place that it was a cop-free zone guys used to walk around the place stark naked.

I recall those happenings you refer to and after Baringa was “closed down” Burnie Court at Lyons took over the title of “canberra’s premier no-go area”.

It soon became known as Burning Court but it wasn’t as bad as the public housing estates in Paris last week http://www.breitbart.com/london/2017/07/17/trumps-paris-migrant-900-cars-burned/

Garfield said :

If you don’t believe there’s a furore about new public housing precincts on CFZ land, go talk to some of the people who purchased land in Molonglo after being told the CFZ land there was going to become a community centre.

I’m not sure a few NIMBY’s opposed to public housing are representative of the Canberra population. I saw the TV news report of the “March on the Assembly” by the Chapman NIMBYS and there was less than half a dozen – including a pet dog.

Garfield said :

The new public housing is linked to light rail financially due to the proceeds of the sale of public housing properties in the corridor being earmarked for the lump sum payment to the consortium, as you yourself have mentioned previously on this website. The government is not reinvesting the proceeds from the sale of public housing into new public housing, but into LR.

Under the Federal Liberal Asset Recycling scheme the funds raised can only be used on assets that will generate economic productivity. Light rail is the program that the Federal Liberal government endorsed for the asset recycling funds to be used on.

There is already a program in place and budgeted for, that provides for new public housing stock to be purchased. It operates year in, year out.

Garfield said :

The government has chosen to place new public housing on CFZ land, which has not happened in the past. They are relying on an interpretation of a technical amendment from 2015. Technical amendments are not supposed to change the substance of legislation, yet somehow prior to the amendment and 2016 election, public housing could not be placed on CFZ land, but now it can. They have not chosen to purchase existing blocks and they have not chosen to use as yet unreleased residential land for the new public housing. Both could have been financially viable options if the sale of existing stock was reinvested into more public housing. It seems the cost of LR has encouraged the government to take the cheap and possibly dubious option of turning CFZ land into residential land for public housing.

As I said, the asset recycling funds can only be used for light rail.

The general community are quite comfortable with public land being used for public housing. Land use changes occur all the time. The Liberal opposition in the Assembly didn’t say a word at the time of the changes. Surely if there was such public concern it would have been raised at the time? No one said anything.

Garfield said :

The ACT is still in deficit and likely to remain so according to the auditor general. There’s only so long a government can remain in deficit and $80m p.a. for each LR stage, of which there are 5 major ones planned, plus the existing bus subsidy is going to see the public transport cost to the budget explode exponentially.

Health and education consume nearly 60% of the ACT Budget, that is now over $6 Billion a year. Light rail at a tiny $80m a year will not impact the deficit in any meaningful way.

As a technology known to attract investment, employment and economic activity in addition to the many transport benefits it delivers – light rail will help boost the economy. Money spent on it is definitely an investment in Canberra’s future.

dungfungus said :

mcs said :

dungfungus said :

mcs said :

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.

There is absolutely nothing ‘undisclosed’ about the availability payments – a 30 second google search soon finds the public contract summary that has that exact detail in it on page 14. While much of the project is shrouded in a cloud of minimal detail, this is not one part of it.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

Farebox revenue is another story altogether, and the inherent subsidy in between. But a bit of research can find some important facts, such as this one – rather than the usual ‘cloak of invisibility’ assumption many make on here.

You should also read the caveats and qualifications about the “availability payments” on page 14.

Care to show an example for a major infrastructure project of such a size that isn’t full of caveats and qualifications, and triggers for variations?

The ones quoted are perfectly normal and reasonable for such an arrangement – being abatement for underperformance (I.e. would reduce the availability payments), changes due to refinancing (again, something that often happens on major projects), and contract variations around ‘force majeure’ style outcomes that significantly impact on the contract.

It is standard stuff, especially for a PPP style arrangement. Of course the final amounts are subject to change – they always area in this style of contracting. To suggest its ‘undisclosed’ is a fairly strong twisting of the truth.

If I “twisted the truth” what do you call the government doing when, according to the Auditor General, they assumed higher revenues from the sale of “vacated” public housing sites along Northbourne Avenue?

https://the-riotact.com/audit-queries-sales-revenue-estimates-for-public-housing-sites/208199

You really are a great one for a subtle deflection when your shown up to be talking nonsense. I was commenting solely on your assertion that the estimated availability payments for Capital Metro were ‘undisclosed’ – which is a clear lie, as has been shown.

I made no comment in relation to public housing, because that is an entirely different topic to what I was responding to. Nowhere have I suggested that the Government in that capacity hasn’t twisted the truth… because I haven’t made any comments in that regard….

Damien Haas said :

“Public housing furore reflects true cost of tram”

What furore? How is it linked to light rail funding?

“Is Canberra in financial strife as a result of the light rail project?”

Clearly not – there is a contract in place with payments set at $80m a year for a fixed period. With an annual ACT Budget over $6 Billion I still don’t know why the very small percentage of the budget allocated to light rail infuriates those opposed to better public transport.

I am not sure where you are getting the $80 million a year figure from Damien but the indicative figures shown in the business plan is for a not so small percentage of the budget being a one off start payment of $375 million to Canberra Metro in 2018 and varying annual availability payments of approx. $36 million in 2019 through to $75 million in 2038 and a final payment of $13 million in 2039.

Then there are the costs of running the Transport Canberra bureaucracy and if I had the time I
am sure there are a lot of latent contingencies that are known and unknown that I could find.

Furore is the wrong word – despair is more a appropriate one.

But as long as the Canberra ratepayers continue to underwrite the financial black hole it is destined to be I am sure the trams will run on time.

Damien Haas said :

“Public housing furore reflects true cost of tram”

What furore? How is it linked to light rail funding?

“Is Canberra in financial strife as a result of the light rail project?”

Clearly not – there is a contract in place with payments set at $80m a year for a fixed period. With an annual ACT Budget over $6 Billion I still don’t know why the very small percentage of the budget allocated to light rail infuriates those opposed to better public transport.

If you don’t believe there’s a furore about new public housing precincts on CFZ land, go talk to some of the people who purchased land in Molonglo after being told the CFZ land there was going to become a community centre.

The new public housing is linked to light rail financially due to the proceeds of the sale of public housing properties in the corridor being earmarked for the lump sum payment to the consortium, as you yourself have mentioned previously on this website. The government is not reinvesting the proceeds from the sale of public housing into new public housing, but into LR.

The government has chosen to place new public housing on CFZ land, which has not happened in the past. They are relying on an interpretation of a technical amendment from 2015. Technical amendments are not supposed to change the substance of legislation, yet somehow prior to the amendment and 2016 election, public housing could not be placed on CFZ land, but now it can. They have not chosen to purchase existing blocks and they have not chosen to use as yet unreleased residential land for the new public housing. Both could have been financially viable options if the sale of existing stock was reinvested into more public housing. It seems the cost of LR has encouraged the government to take the cheap and possibly dubious option of turning CFZ land into residential land for public housing.

The ACT is still in deficit and likely to remain so according to the auditor general. There’s only so long a government can remain in deficit and $80m p.a. for each LR stage, of which there are 5 major ones planned, plus the existing bus subsidy is going to see the public transport cost to the budget explode exponentially.

“Public housing furore reflects true cost of tram”

What furore? How is it linked to light rail funding?

“Is Canberra in financial strife as a result of the light rail project?”

Clearly not – there is a contract in place with payments set at $80m a year for a fixed period. With an annual ACT Budget over $6 Billion I still don’t know why the very small percentage of the budget allocated to light rail infuriates those opposed to better public transport.

mcs said :

dungfungus said :

mcs said :

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.

There is absolutely nothing ‘undisclosed’ about the availability payments – a 30 second google search soon finds the public contract summary that has that exact detail in it on page 14. While much of the project is shrouded in a cloud of minimal detail, this is not one part of it.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

Farebox revenue is another story altogether, and the inherent subsidy in between. But a bit of research can find some important facts, such as this one – rather than the usual ‘cloak of invisibility’ assumption many make on here.

You should also read the caveats and qualifications about the “availability payments” on page 14.

Care to show an example for a major infrastructure project of such a size that isn’t full of caveats and qualifications, and triggers for variations?

The ones quoted are perfectly normal and reasonable for such an arrangement – being abatement for underperformance (I.e. would reduce the availability payments), changes due to refinancing (again, something that often happens on major projects), and contract variations around ‘force majeure’ style outcomes that significantly impact on the contract.

It is standard stuff, especially for a PPP style arrangement. Of course the final amounts are subject to change – they always area in this style of contracting. To suggest its ‘undisclosed’ is a fairly strong twisting of the truth.

If I “twisted the truth” what do you call the government doing when, according to the Auditor General, they assumed higher revenues from the sale of “vacated” public housing sites along Northbourne Avenue?

https://the-riotact.com/audit-queries-sales-revenue-estimates-for-public-housing-sites/208199

dungfungus said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Baringa gardens demolition would have been around this time. There would be a fair amount of the 1000.

Actually, 410 units made up Baringa Gardens and it was vacated progressively before the social expiriment disaster was demolished so there must have been available public accommodation available elsewhere in Canberra at the time.
https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10450-25484274/canberra-times-act

Snapshot of Baringa Gardens at Melba from Hansard, 15th October 1991:

“A typical social mix. Poor public and self image Isolation. High density. Low level of privacy. Poor traffic planning. Unenforced lease conditions. Lack of maintenance. Vandalism. Dogs. Physical: Inadequate heating/ ventilation. Condensation. Water penetration. Mould. Dampness. Poor orientation. Inadequate landscaping.
Prototype Upgrade: 377 of the 795 residents (47.5%0) living at Melba one year previously. Low income, high unemployment. Flats used for priority and emergency housing – short stays.”

It had to be demolished on building related health issues alone; just like Labor’s decision to demolish over 1,000 privately owned Mr Fluffy houses.

Ah Baringa Gardens, I’d almost forgotten about it. I think everybody who lived in Canberra at the time has a Baringa Gardens story to tell. Mine is how the crime rate was so high police declared it a no-go area and when word spread around the place that it was a cop-free zone guys used to walk around the place stark naked.

Rover said :

I don’t understand why the ACT Government refuses to tell us where they plan on putting new public housing.

If it’s true salt-and-peppering, surely they could say “Four three-bedroom detached houses in X street in X suburb”.

But if, as we all suspect, the real answer is “30 two-bedroom townhouses in X street in X suburb”, it’s not salt-and-pepper – it’s just overloading.

Minor details like where the next public housing estate is going to be is generally left until just after an election, so we will all have to hang out fro another 3 and a bit years.

dungfungus said :

mcs said :

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.

There is absolutely nothing ‘undisclosed’ about the availability payments – a 30 second google search soon finds the public contract summary that has that exact detail in it on page 14. While much of the project is shrouded in a cloud of minimal detail, this is not one part of it.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

Farebox revenue is another story altogether, and the inherent subsidy in between. But a bit of research can find some important facts, such as this one – rather than the usual ‘cloak of invisibility’ assumption many make on here.

You should also read the caveats and qualifications about the “availability payments” on page 14.

Care to show an example for a major infrastructure project of such a size that isn’t full of caveats and qualifications, and triggers for variations?

The ones quoted are perfectly normal and reasonable for such an arrangement – being abatement for underperformance (I.e. would reduce the availability payments), changes due to refinancing (again, something that often happens on major projects), and contract variations around ‘force majeure’ style outcomes that significantly impact on the contract.

It is standard stuff, especially for a PPP style arrangement. Of course the final amounts are subject to change – they always area in this style of contracting. To suggest its ‘undisclosed’ is a fairly strong twisting of the truth.

I don’t understand why the ACT Government refuses to tell us where they plan on putting new public housing.

If it’s true salt-and-peppering, surely they could say “Four three-bedroom detached houses in X street in X suburb”.

But if, as we all suspect, the real answer is “30 two-bedroom townhouses in X street in X suburb”, it’s not salt-and-pepper – it’s just overloading.

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Baringa gardens demolition would have been around this time. There would be a fair amount of the 1000.

The decision to demolish Melba Flats (aka Baringa Gardens) was taken by the Follett Government in 1989, on the advice of a report to the ACT Housing Trust : http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/122284952/12990473

For changes in public housing tenancy numbers between 2011 and 2015, see ACT Audit Office report “‘Maintenance of Public Housing’” from last year: https://goo.gl/Af5w39

Table 1-1 on page 13 shows that there were over 11% more public housing tenancies in 2011/12 than in 2014/15, despite the population being almost 5% lower in 2011/12.

The number of public housing tenancies in 2014/15 was just 10,611.

In 1995 when Liberal Kate Carnell became Chief Minister, there were around 13,717 households living in public housing: http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/133921015
In 1998, an audit report noted 12,200 dwellings in the public housing stock: http://www.audit.act.gov.au/auditreports/reports1998/pa9813.pdf . In June 2003, this had fallen to 11,465: http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2004-284/20040813-15766/pdf/2004-284.pdf
Canberra’s population has grown almost 24% since 2003, yet the public housing stock has fallen dramatically.

Both parties will spin these figures to suit themselves (policy changes on who is eligible maybe, but certainly not a more affordable private housing market) but meanwhile, on the streets: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-03/canberra-homelessness-service-blames-public-housing-closures/8672610
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/housing-stress-dire-as-elderly-canberra-women-resort-to-sleeping-in-cars-20170117-gtt156.html

I hope any residential development on West Basin results from an international competition to design a show-case, low-rise, public housing project of excellence. This town already has more than enough high-rise luxury enclaves for rich people and expensive flats with a “second bedroom” without a windows ( http://mayfairapartments.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/2B.pdf ). Those amongst us who’ve had a spell of bad luck, fewer opportunities or made a poor decision will benefit more from a central location and the high visibility of such a project would be good for everyone.

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Baringa gardens demolition would have been around this time. There would be a fair amount of the 1000.

dungfungus said :

Chris Steel MLA said :

You forget Mr Cornwell, that you were part of a Liberal Government that cut around 1000 public housing dwellings from our stock without replacing them.

We reject that approach. The Labor Government’s long term policy of public housing renewal called the ‘Public housing asset management strategy 2012-2017’ has the goal of reducing concentrations of disadvantage through public housing redevelopment and aligning housing with changing social structures and tenant needs. We are not simply selling off stock as your Government did, but reinvesting in new stock.

This and previous strategies have had a consistent focus for years on reducing concentrations of disadvantage. So this is not the first time that tenants have been moved into more suitable, lower density and better quality accommodation.

Northbourne flats are only the latest part of the renewal, with Burnie Court in Lyons and others having also been redeveloped to provide better quality public housing for residents. Strathgordon Court in Lyons is another one on the Southside that is on the renewal list over the forward estimates.

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Here’s a leg up for you (thanks to JC) in you quest to identify the “1,000 public housing dwellings”.

There were 410 units at Baringa Gardens, Melba demolished in the early 1990’s – I am insure which government was in power then but let’s assume it was the Liberals.

Only 590 to go now!

I am not sure of the history of the “ABC” flats in Braddon which have recently been demolished. Let’s see, Labor have been continuously in power for the last 16 years so it’s hard to pin this one on the Liberals.

mcs said :

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.

There is absolutely nothing ‘undisclosed’ about the availability payments – a 30 second google search soon finds the public contract summary that has that exact detail in it on page 14. While much of the project is shrouded in a cloud of minimal detail, this is not one part of it.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

Farebox revenue is another story altogether, and the inherent subsidy in between. But a bit of research can find some important facts, such as this one – rather than the usual ‘cloak of invisibility’ assumption many make on here.

You should also read the caveats and qualifications about the “availability payments” on page 14.

JC said :

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.

Undisclosed sum? Suggest you have a look page 14 of the document below.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

Those figures (Availability Payments) are only estimates and are subject to the following:

“This section sets out the expected availability payment profile as at the time of this summary. The project’s availability payment profile may change over time for reasons which include:
– The Territory ‘abating’ payments for Canberra Metro’s failure to meet service quality and on time running standards;
– The occurrence of Territory-retained risk events which are financed through the availability payment regime; and
– Periodic debt refinancing throughout the term of the contract.”

Already the ACT Audior General has uncovered seriously flawed financial projections in this project and the whole deal has an enormous “blue sky” factor.

Accordingly, I stand by my statement that the sum to be actually paid is, at this stage, undisclosed.

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Baringa gardens demolition would have been around this time. There would be a fair amount of the 1000.

Actually, 410 units made up Baringa Gardens and it was vacated progressively before the social expiriment disaster was demolished so there must have been available public accommodation available elsewhere in Canberra at the time.
https://www.myheritage.com/research/record-10450-25484274/canberra-times-act

Snapshot of Baringa Gardens at Melba from Hansard, 15th October 1991:

“A typical social mix. Poor public and self image Isolation. High density. Low level of privacy. Poor traffic planning. Unenforced lease conditions. Lack of maintenance. Vandalism. Dogs. Physical: Inadequate heating/ ventilation. Condensation. Water penetration. Mould. Dampness. Poor orientation. Inadequate landscaping.
Prototype Upgrade: 377 of the 795 residents (47.5%0) living at Melba one year previously. Low income, high unemployment. Flats used for priority and emergency housing – short stays.”

It had to be demolished on building related health issues alone; just like Labor’s decision to demolish over 1,000 privately owned Mr Fluffy houses.

Queanbeyanite8:49 pm 14 Jul 17

If the local council would stop hosing other peoples money around, cut red tape and utility prices to encourage more value adding private enterprise, the poor could get jobs that suited their abilities and inclination, afford to rent something close to where they work and perhaps save up enough for a deposit to bhy their own place. But policing plastic bags is much too important.

dungfungus said :

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Baringa gardens demolition would have been around this time. There would be a fair amount of the 1000.

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.

Undisclosed sum? Suggest you have a look page 14 of the document below.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

Chris Steel MLA said :

You forget Mr Cornwell, that you were part of a Liberal Government that cut around 1000 public housing dwellings from our stock without replacing them.

We reject that approach. The Labor Government’s long term policy of public housing renewal called the ‘Public housing asset management strategy 2012-2017’ has the goal of reducing concentrations of disadvantage through public housing redevelopment and aligning housing with changing social structures and tenant needs. We are not simply selling off stock as your Government did, but reinvesting in new stock.

This and previous strategies have had a consistent focus for years on reducing concentrations of disadvantage. So this is not the first time that tenants have been moved into more suitable, lower density and better quality accommodation.

Northbourne flats are only the latest part of the renewal, with Burnie Court in Lyons and others having also been redeveloped to provide better quality public housing for residents. Strathgordon Court in Lyons is another one on the Southside that is on the renewal list over the forward estimates.

Seriously? Your party has been in government for 16 years and you still want to complain about something the Liberals did when they were in government. Where there are problems with public housing now, they are your responsibility as there has been more than enough time to deal with any shortcomings that were inherited. I also read something by the Greens that Labor had not grown the public housing stock at all from 2001 to 2014. That really says to me that Labor didn’t disagree with the Liberals reduction at the time or they would have been working to reverse it as a priority once they were in government.

And how about information from a couple of years ago that the government was going to keep the majority of Northbourne tenants inside the 800m corridor? That’s fallen by the wayside and I reckon the cost of LR has to be a factor there. In order to maximise returns from a poor project, the party that “cares” about low income people is forcing hundreds to move away from their support structures and routines with probable negative impacts on their ability to maintain employment and mental health.

As I’ve said on other threads, the opportunity cost of Labor choosing to build LR instead of BRT is massive. Instead of the new convention centre being shelved, it could potentially be underway. Instead of the major hospital expansion being pushed back till after the next election, it could potentially be underway. The new stadium we supposedly need near the city centre could potentially be underway. Maybe with the cheaper BRT option, Labor wouldn’t need a questionable interpretation of what was supposed to be a technical amendment to take CFZ land to reduce the costs for providing replacement public housing.

dungfungus said :

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.

There is absolutely nothing ‘undisclosed’ about the availability payments – a 30 second google search soon finds the public contract summary that has that exact detail in it on page 14. While much of the project is shrouded in a cloud of minimal detail, this is not one part of it.

http://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/887686/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Project-Contract-Summary.pdf

Farebox revenue is another story altogether, and the inherent subsidy in between. But a bit of research can find some important facts, such as this one – rather than the usual ‘cloak of invisibility’ assumption many make on here.

Chris Steel MLA said :

You forget Mr Cornwell, that you were part of a Liberal Government that cut around 1000 public housing dwellings from our stock without replacing them.

We reject that approach. The Labor Government’s long term policy of public housing renewal called the ‘Public housing asset management strategy 2012-2017’ has the goal of reducing concentrations of disadvantage through public housing redevelopment and aligning housing with changing social structures and tenant needs. We are not simply selling off stock as your Government did, but reinvesting in new stock.

This and previous strategies have had a consistent focus for years on reducing concentrations of disadvantage. So this is not the first time that tenants have been moved into more suitable, lower density and better quality accommodation.

Northbourne flats are only the latest part of the renewal, with Burnie Court in Lyons and others having also been redeveloped to provide better quality public housing for residents. Strathgordon Court in Lyons is another one on the Southside that is on the renewal list over the forward estimates.

Where were the 1,000 public housing dwellings you refer to located?

Given that details of the deals between the government, unions and light rail contractors are commercial in confidence you cannot say that the light rail won’t be to blame for the apparent financial crisis we may be facing.

As I understand it, the operators of the light rail will receive an annual undisclosed sum to run it and the government will collect and keep all the fares. The difference between these two sums will be how much it costs us but it won’t be revealed unless an audit flushes it out.
Already we pay an annual subsidy to ACTION busses’ operations of over $100 million and given that the light rail will inherit most of it’s passengers from cessation of existing ACTION routes, the annual ACTION subsidy will increase substantially to fill the hole.
Couple that with the recurring costs of the bureaucracy that Transport Canberra is creating to integrate the trams so we Territorians can and will blame the tram for the financial black hole it will create but the government will continue to talk it up as the driver of urban regeneration that will increase the revenue stream form rates.

Chris Steel MLA10:50 am 14 Jul 17

You forget Mr Cornwell, that you were part of a Liberal Government that cut around 1000 public housing dwellings from our stock without replacing them.

We reject that approach. The Labor Government’s long term policy of public housing renewal called the ‘Public housing asset management strategy 2012-2017’ has the goal of reducing concentrations of disadvantage through public housing redevelopment and aligning housing with changing social structures and tenant needs. We are not simply selling off stock as your Government did, but reinvesting in new stock.

This and previous strategies have had a consistent focus for years on reducing concentrations of disadvantage. So this is not the first time that tenants have been moved into more suitable, lower density and better quality accommodation.

Northbourne flats are only the latest part of the renewal, with Burnie Court in Lyons and others having also been redeveloped to provide better quality public housing for residents. Strathgordon Court in Lyons is another one on the Southside that is on the renewal list over the forward estimates.

No, it cannot be said Canberra is in financial strife because of the light rail project. It can be said, however, Canberra is potentially facing a finacial precipice due to the too narrow revenue base. A jurisdiction that relies on scorched earth taxation and levying of its residents, Commonwealth largesse or miserliness and land sales has no long term future according to my back of envelope calculations.

Greg cannot blame the light rail for the financial situation because the costs form a miniscule part of future budgets. It is the massive rises in health and education that are really hurting, especially considering the cross border free loading.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.