Selasa, 12 Juni 2012

Vale Frank Walker

We're sad to hear that Frank Walker, the former State and Federal Parliamentarian, has died.

Walker held numerous ministerial portfolios, including Housing in the Wran Labor Government. As Housing Minister, Walker was responsible for the replacement of the NSW Housing Commission by the NSW Department of Housing on 1 January 1986.

The intention of the change was to move away from the 'public works' organisation of the old Commission, with its preoccupation with building public housing – even though this meant, by the 1980s, building houses of dubious durability in large estates that concentrated poverty and other social problems – and its high-handed style of tenancy management – obsessed about property management, with a strong minor theme in scrutinising tenants' household arrangements on Octavia Hill lines.

By contrast, the new Department of Housing was envisaged as a cross-tenural housing services agency, with a new focus on 'client service'.

It is fair to say that, more than 25 years later, that reform agenda is still a work-in-progress – but Walker got started on it.

As Housing Minister, Walker also gave the State-wide network of Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services its start. In 1986, the Housing Information and Tenancy Services Program got underway, providing funding to 21 local advice services, as well as to the Tenants' Union (to resource the local services) and to Shelter NSW too.

Walker was also an advocate for people with mental illness, having lost two sons to schizophrenia.

Vale Frank Walker.