TURNBULL GOVERNMENT MAINTAINS SILENCE FOR HOMELESSNESS WEEK

5 Aug 2016

Homelessness Week is drawing to a close. It is a week during which everyone is encouraged to pause and reflect on the fact that on any given night, one in two hundred Australians have no home they can call their own.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS AND APPRENTICESHIPS

SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

  

TURNBULL GOVERNMENT MAINTAINS SILENCE FOR HOMELESSNESS WEEK

Homelessness Week is drawing to a close. It is a week during which everyone is encouraged to pause and reflect on the fact that on any given night, one in two hundred Australians have no home they can call their own.

Homelessness Week helps raise awareness of people experiencing homelessness and the problems they face just getting from one day to the next.

Homelessness Week 2016 has been supported by extensive media coverage in national, regional and local media, by the NGOs, community housing providers and philanthropists whose advocacy is of vital importance to homeless people, and by state and local governments.

During Homelessness Week, you might have expected the Turnbull government to have something to say about its plans to prevent and reduce homelessness. If you did, you will have been sadly disappointed.

If you search, you’ll find that not a single word of support, encouragement or empathy with homeless people has been uttered publicly by anyone in the Turnbull government. Certainly not from the two people most able to make a difference; the Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services, Mr Porter.

Mr Porter has not even seen fit to issue a media release to merely acknowledge Homelessness Week. When the Turnbull government sees a homeless person, it looks away. If they don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

Even if the Turnbull government had anything to say about homelessness this week, it would be empty platitudes. Its actions over the past three years speak louder than any words.

The Turnbull government thinks it is just fine to spend billions of dollars a year on negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts to help people who already have a home or four to buy another one, while cutting $44 million in capital funding for crisis accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Since 2013, the Abbott and Turnbull governments have:

  • Closed the National Rental Affordability Scheme that provided over 20,000 new affordable housing units and was on track to achieve its target of 50,000.
  • Refused to provide funding certainty through the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.
  • Inexplicably cut funding to Homelessness Australia, National Shelter and the Community Housing Federation of Australia, presumably to reduce the effectiveness of their advocacy and policy functions.
  • Scrapped the First Home Saver Accounts Scheme which was helping people save for their first home.
  • Closed their ears and eyes by abolishing the National Housing Supply Council and the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness.

The Abbott and Turnbull governments’ record on homelessness policy is risible. Not only is it blind to the social cost of homelessness, it is blind to the economic cost of homelessness.

It is no wonder the Turnbull government has nothing to say during Homelessness Week.

FRIDAY, 5 AUGUST 2016