GREEN STREET PROGRAM
Mr RICHARD AMERY:
My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. What is the latest information on the Green Street initiative?
Mr DAVID BORGER:
I thank the member for Mount Druitt for his commitment to the many public housing residents who live within his electorate. On Monday I was pleased to stand with the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Verity Firth, to launch the tenders for the New South Wales Green Street Program. We were joined by the cream of the crop of the tree nursery industry in New South Wales, who were obviously very pleased with the scale and scope of the program. We were joined also by some of the big social enterprises that will help deliver the program in New South Wales, and the tenants, who were very pleased to see the Government's commitment to green-up their verges and improve their local environment and neighbourhood.
The scale of the New South Wales Green Street Program is huge, it is a $30 million commitment, and it is the largest single contract for street trees in the country. It will allow the Government to roll out more than 150 kilometres of street tree upgrades to the most disadvantaged members of our community in those 40-odd public housing estates across New South Wales. The Government will contract for the delivery of 15,000 street trees, most of which will be very large, super-advanced, and will make an instant impact of some environments. The program will affect dozens of neighbourhoods and thousands of houses, and allow 300,000-odd public housing tenants in New South Wales to develop a better sense of pride in their neighbourhoods.
Why is the Government doing this? It is doing it so that in the heat of summer young kids can walk to school in the shade through those difficult neighbourhoods on the edge of Sydney and in country towns. We are doing it so that mums with prams can walk their kids to the local bus stop to get to the baby health centre in the town. We are doing it so that the elderly can appreciate the look and feel of their improved neighbourhoods. We are doing it so that ultimately we can salt and pepper those places and give people the opportunity to move to other localities. At Bonnyrigg, Minto and the Gordon Estate in West Dubbo it helps us to have environments and neighbourhoods of value in which people want to live.
Public housing started out well in the early days in this country. One of the first public housing estates to be built was Daceyville, along the Garden Cities of Tomorrow principles of Ebenezer Howard. It was similar to the neighbourhoods in Haberfield with lots of trees, lots of greenery, lots of gardens—a decent environment in which to grow up. However, State and Federal governments lost their way over time, and in the 1970s public housing moved to the edge of Sydney. Often they were built in places that were not close to shops, jobs or public transport. Residents of those outer-city neighbourhoods found it difficult to move around in the heat of summer, such as at Campbelltown, where it can be 6 degrees hotter than in the middle of the Sydney central business district. It is important that we invest in those estates and do something for those local environments.
The important thing about the Green Street Program is that it will engage the young disadvantaged and the young unemployed who live in those areas in the delivery of this project. The Salvation Army, the Oasis Project and Boys Town employ young kids who have dropped out of school and have no work skills to do very basic things, such as turn up in the morning. That is a skill that all members know, but many young kids in those housing estates do not. If they turn up in the mornings they can be trained over 12 months and be awarded with a horticultural certificate. That certificate will qualify them to obtain a job, which will make their families and their community proud. This great program improves the lives of the most disadvantaged in our community, and it improves the microclimate. It is a big shot in the arm for that industry, which is looking to other areas of government across the country to emulate what we have started in New South Wales.
I know that members on both sides of the House are very interested in this program. Yesterday I received an inquiry by a member of the Opposition, who has a difficult public housing estate in his electorate. He could see the benefits of rolling out this sort of program and improving the quality of lives and the environment in that neighbourhood. I commend the program to the House. It has the support of industry and the social enterprises that are delivering it. It has the support of the people who live in those areas.