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?