House debates

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Matters of Public Importance


4:02 pm

Photo of Emma HusarEmma Husar (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I'm pleased to stand here to speak on the urgent need for a national housing strategy and to follow the member for Hughes to provide some sensibility around this debate and not talk about house pricing in Texas. Recently, there was a second forum in my electorate of Lindsay, which was hosted by the Sydney Alliance and a number of housing providers. Not one single Liberal representative turned up—not a councillor, not a state MP, nor the duty senator. This isn't the first time they've snubbed their nose and not turned up. They weren't present at the last one I was at, back in February, either.

This tells you two things about the Liberal Party. They don't see housing as an issue worthy of their time or they don't care about those who are affected by homelessness or housing stress. Before I arrived in this place I was an active volunteer for Pay It Forward and the chair of the homeless interagency convened by Penrith City Council. Both of these gave me the opportunity to understand the complexities that contribute to and create the 116,500 homeless people, as counted on census night. I thank both of these organisations for their work in our community.

The number of homeless people aged 12 to 24 is over 32 per cent—which should bring us to our knees—which is a significant number of young people. The number of homeless people aged over 55 has steadily increased over the past three census counts. In fact, the fastest growing group of homeless people are older women—women who are have retired without enough superannuation, have been through a divorce or have had their casual job hours reduced, not to mention the persistent gender wage gap during their entire working lives.

Australians need a government with a plan. We need an urgent housing strategy that addresses the issue, not a government who's only plan is to fund an $80 billion windfall for big businesses. For a government who hates those who need help the most we shouldn't be surprised by this, though. They come in here all the time and beat up on people who are on support payments, telling them to get a job, a better education or rich parents. You could almost start a board game of 'They said what now?' and attempt to guess which politician made the most outrageous statement.

We know that the best contributor to reducing welfare dependency is stable affordable housing and that the opposite of that is one of the largest contributors to intergenerational inequality. You only need to look at our First Nations people to understand that.

We need a government with a housing strategy, not a Prime Minister who is so out of touch that his own housing arrangements include not moving into the prime ministerial residence at Kirribilli, preferring to stay in his own home at Point Piper, because it would be a downgrade. How would anyone as out of touch as that know what it's like to sleep rough or to be in housing stress, or what it's like to apply for five rental properties as a single parent and be denied every single time simply because you're a single mum?

We need a plan and a government to champion the people, not a government that sees rental stress on the rise—it has gone up more than 40 per cent since this government came to office. Since this government came to office, home ownership is now at a 60-year low, having dropped more than 40 per cent in the last 30 years.

We need a government that won't just champion big business tax cuts, hoping that it somehow magically trickles down if you shake the tree enough. It's now 12 months since the 2017 budget decision to establish a bond aggregator through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Bill. I'd like to add, proudly, that this was a bread-and-butter Labor policy that we announced, and a policy the government has adopted. Congratulations! We welcomed this. But not one single state or territory jurisdiction has signed on.

We need a plan, and this government simply doesn't have one. It doesn't have one when it comes to wage theft, to closing the gender pay gap, to addressing unemployment or to fixing the housing crisis. Only Labor has a plan. A plan that begins with understanding the issue would be a great start for this Prime Minister.

The latest Productivity Commission report found that there are 527,588 households in rental stress—that is more than half a million people—defined as spending more than a third of their income on housing. Imagine that if you were a Newstart recipient. It's a shame that the member for Chisholm is not here. The effects of housing stress are well known, and, as this report finds, housing instability and homelessness can, in turn, increase vulnerability to adverse social and economic circumstances through, for example, poor outcomes in education, employment and health, and an increased risk of involvement with the justice system.

In my electorate of Lindsay, there are over 2,000 state-housing-authority-owned dwellings. The people of my community work hard for what they earn. However, the odds are stacked against them, sadly.

We have a plan for housing affordability. It's a plan that is good for the budget, good for productivity, good for jobs and good for my community in Lindsay. We have a plan to reform negative gearing and capital gains tax. I have somebody in my electorate who owns so many rental properties that his income from those rental properties is $1 million per month. He's also getting negative gearing tax credits on that. We need a government with a plan, not this shabby mob on the other side.


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