Housing Affordability, Homelessness

07 November 2016

I rise to speak wholeheartedly in favour of the motion on safe and affordable housing

that is before the House today. I commend my friend the member for Newcastle as someone who has a long and

abiding interest in those suffering homelessness and who is also a progressive, speaking out for those who need

it the most. We on this side of the chamber are not afraid to speak on behalf of our record, because we on this

side of the chamber have a proud record. Labor has a proud record of not only talking the talk but delivering

when it comes to housing affordability and homelessness. We know that this nation is in the grip of a national

housing crisis. On any given night, 105,000 Australians, including around 705 in my electorate of Oxley, are

without a home.

We hear a lot of platitudes from those opposite, and we just heard from the member for Forde. I give it to the

member for Forde: when, in August 2014, we had that disgraceful attack from the former Treasurer Joe Hockey,

who said that people on low incomes either do not drive cars or do not drive very far—that was the beginning

of the 'lifters and leaners' attacks on poor and working people—the member for Forde was appalled by those

comments, just as most Australians would have been. We have a Treasurer of the nation who thinks that, to get

into the housing market, you need rich parents. We have a government with the wrong priorities when it comes

to delivering housing affordability and homeless services in this nation. What we heard from the contribution

by the member opposite was that we do not have a minister for housing and homelessness. The government

shut down the National Rental Affordability Scheme. They abolished the National Housing Supply Council.

They abolished the Prime Minister's Council on Homelessness. They cut funding to Homelessness Australia, cut

funding to National Shelter, cut funding to the Community Housing Federation of Australia and cut $88 million

from the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. Ministers from around the nation met on Friday, and

yet no commitment was given to increasing funding and no commitment was given to the funding arrangements

needed to deliver outcomes for those most vulnerable in our community. There was also a cut of $26.8 million

from the National Partnership Agreement on Remote Indigenous Housing. Those opposite have suspended the

housing affordability inquiry. They have failed to commit to provide funding to the NPAH beyond June 2017,

placing at risk crisis accommodation, assistance with long-term housing needs and early intervention programs.

When you look at Labor's record, you see that we make housing a priority. We set the target to halve homelessness

by 2025. We know that reforming the tax treatment of rental properties to inject fairness into the property market

—limiting negative gearing to new property—will provide incentives for new constructions and add thousands

of jobs to the construction industry. On this side of the House we have a genuine commitment to dealing with

the long-term housing issues in this nation. In my home state, the Palaszczuk Labor government was forced to

deal with some of the cruellest cuts that we saw from the previous Newman government—that toxic experiment

that failed the people of Queensland. In my electorate, in working-class suburbs like Inala, we saw some of

the cruellest cuts that I have seen in my 25 years in politics, from the LNP government. In the term of the last

government, we saw cuts to 23 organisations that provide tenancy advice and advocacy services to 100,000

Queenslanders. Thank goodness those days are behind us in Queensland. The Palaszczuk Labor government is

now reversing those trends and making sure that we are seeing $152.6 million invested in specialist homelessness

services. I am proud to see a $100 million investment in new government-led housing construction, something

that was abolished and cut by the previous Newman government. We on this side of the House know that only a

federal Labor government, working hand in glove with state Labor governments, will provide long-term housing

for those who need it. We have seen it time and time again. I remind this chamber that over 105,000 Australians

will be without a home tonight. My hope is that this government will start investing in real housing solutions

for those who need it the most.