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Sugar cube, not salt and pepper

By Mark Parton MLA - 18 April 2017 7

suburbia

Andrew Barr and Yvette Berry should stop kidding themselves by suggesting we have a ‘salt and pepper’ approach to public housing. I’m happy to coin a new term. How about the ‘sugar cube’ approach?

Have we learnt nothing about the size of public housing developments in the last 20 years? Allow me to quote Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury from his days as Housing Minister a couple of years ago.

“Certainly there is a clear policy from Housing these days not to have large scale multi-unit developments in the way we have seen in the past, whether it is on Northbourne Avenue or other parts of Canberra, such as Red Hill. A range of evidence shows that they are not the most effective ways and they carry a range of social problems with them. 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.”

Despite Rattenbury’s words, his colleague Caroline Le Couteur failed to support my motion in the chamber to put a stop to these unsuitable developments. As Greens do, she capitulated and supported Labor.

30 apartments on the edge of suburbia is not going to serve anyone well. Most of those moving to these new locations have been surrounded by services and community and they’re going to feel isolated in Wright and Chapman and Holder.

Some have suggested that the Canberra Liberals position on this issue has been ‘anti public housing.’ Speaking as a former public housing tenant I can tell you; it’s not. I am anti poorly thought out developments on land that’s supposed to be for community facilities. The Monash site seems to tick a lot of the right boxes and is only ruled out for us because it’s on a Community Facilities Zone. The government is relying on a dubious interpretation of a controversial technical amendment to the territory plan to ram these developments through.

Hasn’t the public consultation on this latest round of public housing developments been a train wreck? This government trumpets its public consultation credentials every day of the week. They’re happy to consult with you, unless you don’t agree with them and then they definitely don’t want a dialogue with you.

I still can’t quite believe that after the initial Weston Creek Community Council consultation meeting was cancelled because it was oversubscribed, that the government refused to attend another. The Minister apparently feared the dialogue would not be constructive or respectful. I’ve spoken to dozens of Weston Creek residents who are offended by that suggestion.

I attended the Weston Creek Community Council meeting last week. I can report that when Holder resident Malcolm stood to speak in support of the public housing developments he was not shouted down. Despite the fact that Malcolm’s views flew in the face of most of those present, they listened respectfully. If anything, the crowd of 300 appreciated the courage of the few who spoke against the overwhelming tide.

The Minister herself should find similar courage.

If you’re not brave enough to front the people and explain your policies, then perhaps you should rethink those policies.

Is this a case of the government riding roughshod over the community or just making decisions that need to be made, with or without consultation?

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
Sugar cube, not salt and pepper
1
retired_canberran 7:35 am
18 Apr 17
#

“Most of those moving to these new locations have been surrounded by services and community and they’re going to feel isolated in Wright and Chapman and Holder.”

This is really desperate. I can sympathise to a degree with Wright (and only in these early days of development), but Chapman and Holder? I can’t see a tenant needing a particular type of care being moved to an area where they can’t get that care. Really.

1. I would like to see some facts support this statement.
2. ‘isolated’? How have the good folk of Weston Creek coped all these decades? The aged, the children, the sick, the recently divorced single parent trying to get back on their feet etc (surely public housing tenancies don’t hold the monopoly on them all?)

Mark, please don’t do what you’re accusing the government of doing and just ‘dissappear’ now that you’ve said your piece. I hope you can come back for a discussion.

2
Mark Parton MLA 10:01 am
18 Apr 17
#

retired_canberran said :

“Most of those moving to these new locations have been surrounded by services and community and they’re going to feel isolated in Wright and Chapman and Holder.”

This is really desperate. I can sympathise to a degree with Wright (and only in these early days of development), but Chapman and Holder? I can’t see a tenant needing a particular type of care being moved to an area where they can’t get that care. Really.

1. I would like to see some facts support this statement.
2. ‘isolated’? How have the good folk of Weston Creek coped all these decades? The aged, the children, the sick, the recently divorced single parent trying to get back on their feet etc (surely public housing tenancies don’t hold the monopoly on them all?)

Mark, please don’t do what you’re accusing the government of doing and just ‘dissappear’ now that you’ve said your piece. I hope you can come back for a discussion.

Most of the good folk of Weston Creek have motor vehicles. If you don’t have a car and you live up the back of Chapman or Holder, then it’s tough to access the services you need. Buses are few and far between and the local shops are quite small. From Chapman it’s a 3km walk to Cooleman Court.

When tenants, particularly long term tenants move away from an established area, they tend to continue to use the same doctor and pharmacist and of course to engage with their established community. For those who don’t have a car that becomes extremely difficult after a move to Holder, Chapman or Wright.

3
chewy14 10:38 am
18 Apr 17
#

Mark Parton MLA said :

retired_canberran said :

“Most of those moving to these new locations have been surrounded by services and community and they’re going to feel isolated in Wright and Chapman and Holder.”

This is really desperate. I can sympathise to a degree with Wright (and only in these early days of development), but Chapman and Holder? I can’t see a tenant needing a particular type of care being moved to an area where they can’t get that care. Really.

1. I would like to see some facts support this statement.
2. ‘isolated’? How have the good folk of Weston Creek coped all these decades? The aged, the children, the sick, the recently divorced single parent trying to get back on their feet etc (surely public housing tenancies don’t hold the monopoly on them all?)

Mark, please don’t do what you’re accusing the government of doing and just ‘dissappear’ now that you’ve said your piece. I hope you can come back for a discussion.

Most of the good folk of Weston Creek have motor vehicles. If you don’t have a car and you live up the back of Chapman or Holder, then it’s tough to access the services you need. Buses are few and far between and the local shops are quite small. From Chapman it’s a 3km walk to Cooleman Court.

When tenants, particularly long term tenants move away from an established area, they tend to continue to use the same doctor and pharmacist and of course to engage with their established community. For those who don’t have a car that becomes extremely difficult after a move to Holder, Chapman or Wright.

A bus every hour at a minimum and more frequently during peak hour. And the local shops are within a kilometre for general day to day needs. If this is onerous then we would never have public housing in the suburbs at all.

The problem you’ve identified is related to the fact that we have long term public housing tenants fixated around one area in the first place. Something that I hope the government will be trying to avoid in future and that the Liberals would also do the same if elected.

4
PMB 4:53 pm
18 Apr 17
#

From what you’ve said I could assume that when you lived in public housing you didn’t have a car, never shopped at a local shop, and never caught a bus. I could also assume that you must be unique because you weren’t a long-term resident. I don’t want to assume anything because I don’t have the right.

Why pass judgment, why decide how good or bad this is for people you don’t know? Why tell someone in the city that they’re so ingrained in who they are now because of where they live they’re incapable of living in the suburbs?

Those places are on borrowed time and the new developments will be happening. Any chance the communities probably had to have any decent consultation with the government seems lost now because they’re demanding their right to have a say as to the whether or not the developments happen. The public can’t say they support the welfare of people in public housing while they leave them rot in 60 year old infrastructure and debate for years over what to do.

With over 20k people in the Weston Creek, 300 people isn’t an overwhelming tide. If a true vote from the Weston Creek community was to be heard, the Chapman residents might want to be careful what they wish for, people in the other Creek suburbs might point out that you could put a lot more than 30 apartments up there if you really wanted. For such a horribly isolated spot, Google Earth shows some pretty nice houses up there, if you can call mansions houses. There must be something okay about it 🙂

5
gbates 8:16 pm
18 Apr 17
#

In Coombs they salt-and-peppered one public housing complex of 17 units directly next door to another public housing complex of 16 units*. Public housing is an important program that benefits us all. The public housing renewal program represents a big opportunity for Canberra to do it well; it’s really very disappointing to watch this government completely botch it.

*This is public information available at http://www.economicdevelopment.act.gov.au/urban-renewal/public-housing-renewal/better-housing/replacement-housing-locations/coombs

6
bj_ACT 11:45 am
19 Apr 17
#

PMB said :

From what you’ve said I could assume that when you lived in public housing you didn’t have a car, never shopped at a local shop, and never caught a bus. I could also assume that you must be unique because you weren’t a long-term resident. I don’t want to assume anything because I don’t have the right.

Why pass judgment, why decide how good or bad this is for people you don’t know? Why tell someone in the city that they’re so ingrained in who they are now because of where they live they’re incapable of living in the suburbs?

Those places are on borrowed time and the new developments will be happening. Any chance the communities probably had to have any decent consultation with the government seems lost now because they’re demanding their right to have a say as to the whether or not the developments happen. The public can’t say they support the welfare of people in public housing while they leave them rot in 60 year old infrastructure and debate for years over what to do.

With over 20k people in the Weston Creek, 300 people isn’t an overwhelming tide. If a true vote from the Weston Creek community was to be heard, the Chapman residents might want to be careful what they wish for, people in the other Creek suburbs might point out that you could put a lot more than 30 apartments up there if you really wanted. For such a horribly isolated spot, Google Earth shows some pretty nice houses up there, if you can call mansions houses. There must be something okay about it 🙂

I think it’s a fair point you make PMB about Chapman residents. I had a look at the 2011 CENSUS Data (BCP5106) for the number of people in Public housing per Suburb. Chapman’s nearest neighbouring Suburbs certainly bear the brunt of Public Housing whilst Chapman is pretty bare (if people take Public Housing as a negative).

Kambah (less than 1km away from Chapman but worlds apart) has by far the most Public tenants of all Canberra Suburbs with 548 or 4% of the suburbs total population. I imagine this number will increase in the coming CENSUS with the Public Housing Aged facilities that replaced ACT Labor’s closed primary schools and took over Kambah’s green space and ovals to little fanfare. A question for another day is why do the poorer working class areas of Canberra complain less than the richer areas about public housing or other NIMBY developments in their suburbs?

But back to the data….. Rivett directly across the road from Chapman has 143 Public Housing tenants at 5% of population, Duffy has 86 at 3% of population and Stirling has 69 also at 3%.

Chapman has just 17 Public housing tenants at 0.6% of population, so I am sure there is an opportunity to expand that number within reason.

Considering the 548 Public Housing tenants of nearby Kambah have pretty poor bus services, poorly performing schools, dilapidated and run down shopping precincts and ever reducing Community facilities, I think using this example in the reasoning to reduce Weston Creek Public Housing rings a little hollow.

7
4Seasons 9:10 am
21 Apr 17
#

Now that you have the principle right, Mr Barr……..

Chief Minister Barr is to be congratulated for defending Canberra from a flawed Government policy (decentralisation of the Public Service), based on prejudiced beliefs about a certain class of people (privileged public servants, not diverse, insulated, didn’t vote for us anyway, ought to be made to take one for the team, had it coming, etc).

Yes, it is bad Government when the rights and concerns of a minority get trampled over, based on prejudice, with a dodgy business case, flawed planning and without consultation.

Now, about that plan to dislocate 1500 tenants to new enclaves on the edge of the city, near people you don’t like……

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