Thursday, 28 October 2010
Solomon Electorate: Housing
I rise today to discuss the future of the suburb of Eaton in Darwin—or, as locals call it, RAAF Base Winnellie. Darwin, and indeed the Northern Territory, is currently experiencing the worst housing crisis in its history, courtesy of an incompetent Henderson Labor government, yet here we have 395 perfectly good houses owned by the Department of Defence and identified as excess, around 125 of which are currently sitting vacant. It is absolutely ridiculous that this could be allowed to happen.
The suburb of Eaton, its residents and its economic life have always been integral to Darwin. The local retailers are feeling the pinch, and Ludmilla Primary School is losing students. This will only get worse as more families are relocated to the more modern houses further away in the new suburb of Muirhead, where the Gillard Labor government, through its member for Lingiari, said that the average house price of $750,000—if the neighbouring suburb of Lyons is anything to go by—is perfectly affordable. Well, it is not. The excuses of property age and land use are simply not sustainable given the bizarre decision that has been taken to relocate some of these houses which need to be recertified and upgraded, when these same houses could be upgraded on site and then made available to employed people who have to sleep in their cars because they cannot afford a house in my electorate.
The local residents are now coming together in a display of community spirit that will demonstrate how important this issue is. The Save Eaton campaign has now been formally created. It has a new website, located at www.saveeaton.com, and a community committee that includes community members like Northern Territory Shelter, the Ludmilla school council, the local newsagent and the local supermarket owner. More importantly, it has the impassioned support of the defence families who themselves do not wish to be moved out of their homes, as well as other defence families who have advised me that they would rather have the opportunity to live closer to the RAAF base and also the city. This group is planning to hold a public meeting in the first week of December, and I am sure the defence department would be well advised to listen carefully to what the residents have to say. Mr Speaker—Mr Deputy Speaker; I am sorry—you are going to hear a lot about this issue from me.