Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Tasmania: Housing Affordability
I rise to speak today about a disturbing increase in the number of constituents approaching my office for assistance in locating housing—in particular, public housing. Prime Minister Scott Morrison wants to give tax cuts to the big banks and to the top end of town instead of funding services that ordinary Tasmanians need. Tasmanians are waiting longer to access health care through our public hospital system. State public servants are seeking reasonable increases in their wages and incomes, trying to match increases in all the expenses that average families have to meet. There are still people for whom access to health care, education and basic government services is, in a word, academic.
These are people who have children. These are people trying to live fulfilling lives, but they cannot if they cannot get access to housing. We think of homelessness as representing a group of people almost in the abstract. We can fail to think of them as individuals—people entitled to dignity and safety. Public housing should be available, particularly for those who are assessed with urgent needs. These people are placed on a waiting list and have been supposedly allocated priority. But what sort of priority is this? The waiting list now exceeds two years.
What of the constituent who approached my office for assistance with obtaining housing for him and his two-year-old child? This man, Troy, has been allocated accommodation through the public housing system. The organisation administering this public resource gave him notice to vacate his property because they intended to renovate the property. He will be homeless by the end of February. Time and time again I have constituents approaching my office for assistance with similar stories—parents with young children who want to ensure that they do not drag their children to unfamiliar schools, exposing their children to additional stress and dislocation. Rebecca is a single mum of four children. She's a full-time nursing student. She applied with Housing Tasmania last year, and no suitable properties were available. She camped with her children before going into emergency accommodation. She secured a private rental with no assistance from Housing Tasmania or, indeed, from the minister's office.
There are constituents who've sought public housing in order to re-establish connections with their children who are within the child protection system. There are people who are couch surfing, living in tents and subject to the risk of violence, theft of their belongings and further stress and anxiety. There are no time frames given for these people to be allocated suitable properties. They just have to wait. This is not good enough.