CHOICE IS NOT ENOUGH WHEN MORE SOCIAL HOUSING IS NEEDED

6 Jun 2017

Labor acknowledges the Productivity Commission’s finding that Australia’s social housing system is broken.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

 

CHOICE IS NOT ENOUGH WHEN MORE SOCIAL HOUSING IS NEEDED

 

Labor acknowledges the Productivity Commission’s finding that Australia’s social housing system is broken.

 

The finding, contained in the Commission’s draft report on human services provision is a wake-up call. Disinvestment and neglect of public housing in the name of ‘small government’ has been an epic failure.

 

In the absence of long term government investment to substantially increase the overall stock of social housing, the Productivity Commission’s proposed single model of financial assistance and increases to Commonwealth Rent Assistance will be insufficient to provide real choice for social housing tenants. Social housing comprises just 5 percent of all housing stock. In 2001 it was 6.9 percent. When there’s not much to choose from, there’s not much choice.

 

While the Productivity Commission rightly emphasises choice, accountability and responsiveness as desirable characteristics of the social housing system, in the absence of sustained increases in the stock of public and community housing, they are merely the buzzwords of ‘small government’.

 

The Commission’s draft report acknowledges that up to 150,000 households are on social housing waiting lists. Anywhere between 465,000 and 900,000 more that are eligible for social housing are in the private rental market. Many of those households are in severe rental stress.

 

However, the draft report is silent on the need to increase the supply of social housing. Labor hopes the Commission will address this omission in its final report.

 

In the meantime we will continue to consult with the social housing sector and homelessness service providers and develop further policy prior to the next election.

 

Labor announced in April that we will re-establish the National Housing Supply Council to provide a Labor Government with research and evidence to support housing policies that recognise among other things the importance of affordable housing to the health of the economy; the dynamics of housing market demand, supply and delivery and the implications of housing poverty for health, education and employment outcomes.

 

The Abbott Government abolished the National Housing Supply Council November 2013.

 

The Abbott/Turnbull Governments have wasted its four years in government when it comes to housing policy.

 

Only Labor, with a comprehensive plan for the future, will address the housing needs of all Australians.

 

TUESDAY, 6 JUNE 2017