Monday, 3 March 2014
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
Through you, Mr Deputy President, the funding was not terminated at all. Senator Fifield, you were quite critical of the former government for simply suspending and rolling over the funding for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, but the government has now effectively ceased all negotiations. The Abbott government has abolished all of the expert bodies who were formerly providing it with advice on housing affordability and homelessness. The COAG body—where housing ministers were getting together to try to hash out an agreement, because these are complex issues and they take years to negotiate—no longer exists; there is no longer a forum for these discussions to occur. My state colleague the Hon. Lynn MacLaren MLC, in the Western Australian Parliament, put a question to the state government on 11 December last year about the number of organisations in Western Australia that are going to hit the wall—they are organisations that are providing support services for homeless people today who are going to be shedding staff and closing their doors this month. It is absolutely extraordinary. All that Senator Fifield could do was mumble about how expensive it is to provide services for people.
The Centre for Social Impact Studies out of the University of Western Australia and AHURI are two of the few organisations—thankfully independent—who still exist to do research and advocacy in this area. AHURI released a report last December that looked at the degree to which investment in homelessness programs has the potential to make significant cost savings for the taxpayer. Through you, Mr Deputy President, I do not buy your argument, Senator Fifield, that it is a waste of money for taxpayers to be spending money on homelessness. It is extraordinary.