House debates

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

Questions without Notice


2:45 pm

Photo of Luke GoslingLuke Gosling (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. What does today's census data reveal about the situation with veteran homelessness in Australia, and what is the federal Labor Albanese government's plan to combat veteran homelessness?

Photo of Matt KeoghMatt Keogh (Burt, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

OGH (—) (): I thank the member for Solomon for his question and his unwavering support for veterans not just in the Darwin-Palmerston area but across this country, and especially those who are experiencing homelessness.

One of the things that the 2021 Census revealed to us last year was that there are some 581,000 people in Australia who have served or are serving in our Australian Defence Force. The data that has been released today shows that, on census night, 1,555 veterans were homeless. But, in addition to those veterans who were homeless on census night, we also know there are many who are experiencing marginal housing—those who are at risk of homelessness; those who are couch surfing; and those who are staying with family and friends or in temporary accommodation in caravan parks or the like. That leaves these veterans in a very vulnerable position. Of course, for any veterans that are experiencing homelessness or feel that they're at risk of homelessness, I ask them to contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs on 1800838372 or Open Arms on 1800011046.

I've been asked what we are doing to support those veterans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. The Labor government has an ambitious agenda when it comes to this issue. Of course, it is part of our $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund plan, from which there will be $30 million that will go to supporting veterans experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, not just with housing itself but with the wraparound services to support them.

I was quite happy to see that on Monday Senator O'Sullivan, in the other place, was talking about the plans from the Royal Australian Air Force Association of WA to build an Andrew Russell Veteran Living centre, based on the one in South Australia, to support veterans in Western Australia. I met with RAAFA WA last year to talk about those plans. Earlier this year I met with Vasey RSL from Victoria to talk about their plans for homelessness services to support veterans with wraparound services. These are great plans that are coming forward from our ex-service organisations and housing sectors. Unfortunately, they can't act until we get access to the funding through the establishment of the Housing Australia Future Fund. So I say to Senator O'Sullivan, in the other place: instead of being part of a Liberal-National-Green 'no-alition' against the Housing Australia Future Fund, you all have an opportunity in the other place to support this legislation and to support veterans experiencing homelessness and at risk of homelessness.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

On a point of order, I call the member for New England, and he'll need to state what the point of order is.

Photo of Barnaby JoyceBarnaby Joyce (New England, National Party, Shadow Minister for Veterans' Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

It's one on the use of the word 'no-alition'. You've given express words that he's not supposed to use that.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll hear from the Leader of the House.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, with regard to the reference that was just made by the minister, it's not that you've previously ruled that term is an unparliamentary term. It's that you ruled that it can't be used with reference to the formal coalition of the Liberal and National parties. The member just referred to a coalition of the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Greens in the Senate. If the member for New England thinks that's the official coalition then I guess it would have to be withdrawn under the previous ruling.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! Resume your seat. I was trying to listen to the minister, but there was too much noise to hear what the minister was saying. I remind all members referring to the coalition is as the coalition.