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Question Time: Resolving the social housing shortage in Tasmania
Mr WILKIE (Clark) (14:13): My question is to the Minister for Housing. Minister, the housing roundtable held recently in Hobart was the second in 12 months. There was lots of talk but too little achieved—especially to provide crisis accommodation for hundreds of Tasmanians sleeping rough. While this matter is mainly a state responsibility, there are obvious opportunities for federal assistance. So I ask you three questions: firstly, what’s the government doing to prioritise National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation funding for Tasmania? Secondly, has the government progressed its thinking regarding Tasmania’s housing debt and the possibility of waiving the debt, or at least the crippling interest bill? Thirdly, when will the government draft a national affordable housing plan to boost social housing supply?
Mr SUKKAR (Deakin—Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing) (14:13): I thank the member for Clark for his question. I know that the member for Clark, like me, would welcome the state government announcement today for an additional $5 million for crisis accommodation in Hobart. Can I thank the member for Clark for making time to meet with me when I was in Hobart, and I appreciate his advocacy.
One of the first things I did as Minister for Housing was attend the Hobart homelessness forum back in June. It’s clear that in Hobart there’s a significant gap between the approval of new dwellings and the increasing population, which is putting pressure across the housing spectrum.
Following the forum, as I said publicly, I immediately asked the CEO of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation to meet with the Tasmanian Minister for Housing, Roger Jaensch, in order to make sure Tasmania was prioritised in the work of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, which is essentially a body set up by this government to drive additional social and affordable housing. I’m told that that meeting went very well and NHFIC is working with the Tasmanian government on a range of projects in and around Hobart and Tasmania more broadly. I also thank the member for Braddon and Bass, who, similar to the member for Clark, are very strong advocates for Tasmania.
At that forum, yes we did speak about the Tasmanian housing debt; that was a topic of conversation. Similarly, we spoke about the Hobart City Deal, which was announced by this government. Again, I thank the member for Clark for his advocacy here. The Hobart City Deal is a $30 million boost to social and affordable housing in and around Tasmania. I was very pleased on that trip to visit CatholicCare, which is receiving $8 million under the Hobart City Deal to construct 55 affordable units. There is also $8 million going to Community Housing Ltd, $8 million to Housing Choices Ltd and $6 million to the Supported Affordable Accommodation Trust.
The member for Clark also asked about a national plan. It wasn’t that long ago that we—the Prime Minister was Treasurer and I was his assistant—renegotiated the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, which guarantees funding, including homelessness funding. Through the agreement with Tasmania, we are already contributing $33.7 million, of which $3 million is permanent whereas it wasn’t previously, and that is solely dedicated to homelessness. In addition, across the country the coalition has announced a $78 million commitment to support women and children escaping domestic violence, for which I know there are projects underway in Tasmania already, and this includes $60 million to build emergency accommodation.
So there a range of measures. I thank the member for Clark for his work in this area. We are focused on Tasmania, and Hobart more specifically, as we are throughout the country on these projects.
Click here to access a PDF transcript of the Hansard extract of this speech.