Monday, 29 July 2019
Private Members' Business
Tasmania: Housing Affordability
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) after being neglected by successive State and Federal Liberal Governments, Tasmania is now in the depths of a housing crisis;
(b) under the Liberals, the Tasmanian housing market is failing renters, first-home buyers and people at risk of homelessness;
(c) the average middle-income Tasmanian household is in rental stress, paying about 30 per cent of their income just to put a roof over their head, and 20 per cent more Tasmanians are accessing homelessness and crisis housing services than two years ago;
(d) sadly, behind these statistics, Tasmanians are hurting;
(e) the new Federal Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community Services wants to put a 'positive spin' on the housing crisis, which is disgraceful and shows an arrogant contempt for ordinary Tasmanians; and
(f) these unacceptable comments illustrate the failure and incompetence of the Liberals in Tasmania;
(2) calls on the Federal Government to outline a plan to address this crisis—if there is a deal with Senator Lambie, the Government should release the details; and
(3) recognises that:
(a) this continuing record of neglect is yet another example of the State and Federal Liberals failing to stand up for Tasmania; and
(b) only Labor can be trusted to take the housing crisis seriously.
The Tasmanian housing crisis is not just about low-income Tasmanians unable to afford accommodation. This is hitting middle-income Tasmanians. The housing crisis in Tasmania has become so bad that people on middle incomes cannot find anywhere to live in our state, particularly in Hobart. It has been an issue that was raised by the Speaker of the House of Assembly in Tasmania, a member of the Liberal Party, more than 15 months ago. Indeed, we've now seen two winters where Tasmanians have been left out in the cold by the federal and state Liberal governments. It got to point where the Liberal member for Clark has said, 'I will not stand by and watch what this government has done to innocent people through a lack of action. There is no leadership, and it must come from the state government.' When asked about what is happening in terms of the Liberal governments, state and federal, investing in Tasmania and one word to describe them, the term the Liberal member for Clark uses is 'incompetence'.
It is terrible what is happening in Tasmania today when it comes to housing. We saw the recently signed Hobart City Deal after three years of much fanfare. All that was in it for affordable housing was $30 million. This is not significant enough. We know that Tasmania needs millions of dollars of investment in housing from tiers of government but also from private investors. We know that what Labor did in federal government was working. We saw over $450 million invested by federal Labor in six years in the different forms of housing in Tasmania, from affordable housing to social housing, to public housing, to family violence shelters. Right across the board we invested $450 million plus in six years. We've seen absolutely nothing like that from the current federal Liberal government. They need to work with the state government to do better on this issue.
When you get phone calls in your electorate office from people who are earning $45,000 or $50,000 a year who say they cannot find anywhere to live, we have a very real problem. It is a problem that neither government seems to have been able to grapple with. It is a problem that nobody seems to have an answer to. We need all three tiers of government in Tasmania, particularly in Hobart and greater Hobart, working together to get this resolved. I would have thought the recently signed Hobart City Deal would have been the main opportunity to do that. This is where the government talks about the three tiers of government working together, setting targets and having great aims. That's what they should have done with the Hobart City Deal. Instead of doing a dud deal that included money being spent on the Antarctic continent, they should have actually worked with the other tiers of government to come up with a proper solution for the current housing crisis in Tasmania. It is simply not good enough when you've got one of your own Liberal state members who is the Speaker of the House of Assembly in Tasmania calling governments incompetent when it comes to their action on housing, because basically they have done nothing in 15 months.
This housing crisis has gone on for 15 months. Tasmanians have been left in the cold for 15 months by the state and federal Liberal governments when it comes to the housing crisis in Tasmania. There is so much more that could be done. As I said, the Hobart City Deal was a missed opportunity. They've been talking to Jacqui Lambie, allegedly, about what can happen in terms of the Tasmanian housing crisis. She has some sort of agreement with the government about investing in housing. This is a secret deal. We don't know what's in this deal. The government hasn't come clean. We don't know what they're going to do about housing in southern Tasmania or in Hobart. There was some talk at one stage about perhaps wiping some of the public housing debt that Tasmania owes the Commonwealth because half of it gets chewed up in repayments of the state government's annual allocation.
This is a really serious issue here. The federal government needs to work better with state and local governments to get a real solution. They have sat on their hands for 15 months while Tasmanians have been doing it tough, and I've got people coming into my office, as I said earlier, on $40,000 and $50,000 saying, 'I cannot find anywhere to live.' We all need to strive to do better. After six years of Liberal governments state and federal, they need to be held accountable and they need to be held responsible for the terrible housing crisis in Tasmania at the moment. They need to act.