Parton / So, okay, I’m a ‘houso’

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I’M sick of the public-housing NIMBYs in this town. Were they seriously carrying on about 14 public housing units in Nicholls?

Get a grip, people.

Mark Parton.
Mark Parton.
It’s been an extraordinary reaction in all forms of media; I’ve had public-housing tenants described as paedophiles, drug dealers and rapists.

Wow! What scum-of-the-earth all of these “housos” must be.

I was born in 1966 in country WA. When my mother brought me home, I arrived at 52 Grey Street, York. It was a modest, three-bedroom house on one of the dodgiest streets in town. The grass in the backyard had all died and much of the back fence was missing.

It was a state housing home.

My mother and father had lived in this house for two years before my arrival. When they came to town, intending to set up a business in the main street of York, it was all they could afford. This place didn’t just have asbestos in the ceilings, the walls were made of bonded asbestos.

We lived in that house until I was four. In 1970, mum and dad bought their first home across town, at 7 Elizabeth Street.

I don’t have many memories of my early years at Grey Street, but they’re all fond ones. When you’re four it’s not a public-housing house… it’s your home.

There was a bush growing in the front yard that had a distinctive smell… I’ve got no idea what it’s called, but when I come across it in suburban Canberra, I close my eyes and that smell takes me back to Grey Street.

I can remember sitting on the front step feeling left out because my big brother was going off to school and I had to stay at home. I think Dean was mightily pleased to escape from me for a while.

And I remember Mervyn and Lorna, who lived next door. There were so many holes in the fence that our yard was virtually theirs as well. The Batemans are an indigenous family. Among the children was Paul, who  went on to work as a shearer and play football for the York Kangaroos. His son Chance Bateman ended up playing nearly 200 games for Hawthorn at the highest level of the game.

So, it turns out I’m a “houso”; I’m not a paedophile, a drug dealer or a rapist.

Can people, please, stop making such rash generalisations because it’s beginning to annoy me.

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Mark Parton
Canberra Liberal MLA and former breakfast announcer on 2CC.


  1. Thanks for sharing Mark – I never thought of myself as a ‘houso’ (as depicted by that dreadfully stereotyped TV program), but I guess I was. My parents and I moved into our first ‘commission home’, as they were known in our home town, when I was a year old after having spent my first 12 months at first with my mum’s parents and then my dad’s. We had a number of commission homes until I was 8, when my mum was able to purchase our first ‘real’ home (unfortunately due to money that became available upon my father’s untimely and early death).

    I made great friends growing up in that environment, including ‘new Australians’ and ‘indigenous Australians’ as they are now called (back then they were just Lorna and Thorraney and Alex etc) as well as quite a few kids from my class at school.

    I look back fondly on those days, always surrounded by neighbours and friends; never having to worry about someone being there to keep an eye out for us kids if one lot parents had to work late (and yes, my parents always worked but didn’t earn much); living in a house that was our home regardless of who it belonged to. I turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself 🙂

  2. What amused me about the Nicholls residents was their belief that there is, in fact, a prestigious part of Gungahlin.

    Their attitude to people living in public housing was not funny at all. Bunch of (would be) bourgeois snobs.

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