Libs opportunism on public housing arson Thu 31 May 2012 Cassy O'Connor Minister for Human Services The Minister for Human Services, Cassy O'Connor, said she was disappointed by the Tasmanian Liberals opportunistic attempts to misrepresent the facts on arson attacks on public housing. Ms O'Connor said Housing Tasmania have a range of measures in place to combat arson in public housing properties, including the fitting of smoke detectors to all properties, remotely-monitored security devices, the engagement of private security firms, partnerships with Tasmania Police and rewards of up to $10,000 for information leading to the conviction of anyone burning down a public housing properties. "The fact is, the value of arson-related damage in Housing Tasmania properties appears to have dropped - with $2.1 million in damage recorded in the first nine months of 2011-12 compared with $5.76 million in 2010-11," Ms O'Connor said. "I thought Jacquie Petrusma would be pleased to see that the measures Housing Tasmania have put in place are having an impact, resulting in a significant drop in arson attacks. "But instead she's chosen to ignore this for the sake of a quick headline. "Bizarrely, she also claims that having these properties tenanted would reduce the risk of arson - when more than half of the properties that were subject to arson attacks were, in fact, tenanted at the time." Ms O'Connor said there were a wide variety of reasons why Housing Tasmania properties would be vacant - including the need to perform sometimes urgently-needed maintenance work prior to a tenant moving in and delays in tenants inspecting properties prior to signing a lease. She said it was also important to match tenants to a suitable property and a location that meets their needs. "And sometimes tenants themselves ask for several weeks grace while they finish existing tenancies and move in to the Housing Tasmania property," she said. "Is Ms Petrusma suggesting we should close the door on tenants because they can't move in on the day the house is offered? "Obviously, when a property can be tenanted, Housing Tasmania will move to put a tenant in that property - and to suggest otherwise is ludicrous. "As I have repeatedly said, arson is unacceptable in any form - and it's extremely disappointing when someone attacks a Housing Tasmania property. "Taxpayers suffer as a result, the local community suffers and, most importantly, it's one less home that will be available for a Tasmanian in need. "Housing Tasmania will continue to work on measures to combat arson attacks on public housing to ensure we can continue to deliver homes for those Tasmanians who need it most."