I rise on behalf of the opposition to indicate our support for the second reading of this bill. There are aspects of the Hon. Robert Brokenshire’s bill that the opposition wholeheartedly agrees with and there are other aspects where, whilst we may agree in principle, there may be some unintended consequences that need to be thrashed out. We will work with the Hon. Robert Brokenshire and his party over the next short period of time to try to reach a landing on some of those issues. I will say from the outset that one of the first inquiries I sat on with the Statutory Authorities Review Committee was into disruptive tenants.
The Hon. R.L. Brokenshire: It was a long time ago.
The Hon. T.J. STEPHENS: It was a long time ago and it was distressing, at the very least, to listen to many genuine people who had the comfort and reasonable peace and quiet of their lives interrupted by tenants who did not respect the privilege that they had (and have) of public housing. Like all members, I want to see those vulnerable members of our community looked after and I think it is fantastic that public housing is something that the people of South Australia can provide. However, I personally think that public housing is a privilege that should not be abused.
As soon as you throw in the words ‘a basic right’, people think that they can have public housing and they do not have to give any consideration to the privilege that it is to have public housing. Many good people, many senior people—people who should be able to live out their lives in some form of peace—deserve not to have people who do not respect the privilege that they have of public housing. Among the abuses that we heard about, there were sad cases of people being put into public housing who I suspect should well have been in secure mental facilities or institutions.
We went through this period decades ago where it became quite sexy for governments of perhaps all persuasions to put people from institutions out into the public arena, into public housing, obviously with supports. However, those supports have turned out to be lacking. So you will find that, in good streets, where people have been good public housing tenants for decades, communities of people have had people put in the middle of them who are totally unsuitable. Quite frankly, they probably should have been institutionalised. They were placed there without the supports that they certainly needed. It was one of the most distressing inquiries that I have sat through.
The Hon. Bob Sneath, former President, shared those concerns. Shoulder to shoulder, we were quite strong on our reporting of the fact that people should participate in public housing with respect for others and those around them, and at no stage do the Liberal Party ever want to back away from that.
The three strikes policy we thought was a fair and reasonable policy at the time; anybody can make a mistake or transgress and, with the right counselling and guidance, should be able to get their lives back on track. But, when the quiet and comfort of the lives of people around them were being destroyed—certainly the Hon. Bob Sneath at the time, myself and the Hon. Caroline Schaefer (and I think the Hon. Nick Xenophon sat on that committee as well)—we were as one with regard to the fact that people should not have to put up with that.
I am pleased that the Hon. Robert Brokenshire has brought this issue again to the fore. As I said, there are some parts of the Hon. Robert Brokenshire’s bill which, whilst we understand the intent of it and probably support it, we really need to put some more work into it to perhaps try to tweak it, and we will do that over the next period of time. However, with those few words, I indicate the opposition supports the second reading of the bill.