New Name, Same Problem

27 March, 2024

I've been in Adelaide—you were with me, Deputy Speaker Sharkie— when one of those services handed out a tent and some food to a family because they had completely run out of accommodation. This was three years ago now, when we didn't have the crisis we have today. What I'm hearing is that the Home Guarantee Scheme is another scheme from a federal government, when we should be, in my view, getting the money out to the state governments and telling them to get on with the job. They're the ones that are on the ground. The federal government is too far away from the action to be able to do this.

What's happening in my state of Victoria is that one in five of the properties on the market are being sold by landlords because they're sick of the land tax and all the other taxes that they are encumbered with, to the point where they say: 'What's the use of having a rental? This used to be a good investment.' Forty-six per cent of the income of the state government of Victoria comes from property taxes, which the federal government have no control over whatsoever. They have no control over land development. They have no control over land release. They have no control over the opportunities that are there.

Yes, if there is federal land that can be sold off for housing, sell it off, move it. If it's in the right place at the right time, please do that. But, for heaven's sake, all of these plans that I've seen over my 25 years of service in the parliament have all been 'a new plan', 'a new plan', 'a new plan'. Whether it's a revamped plan or a new plan I don't know, because the government don't tell us. They say, 'We've got a new plan.' Whose money are they using? Is it the money that was set aside in this budget, the last budget, the previous budget or the budget before that? I don't know, but it probably goes like this. A public servant walks in and says, 'We need a new name for the same plan'—the same plan that hasn't worked for a long time—'and this will take five years to implement.' You heard the member for Paterson when she said that, faced with this situation, they have a new plan. I think the public servant would have walked in and said, 'Minister, we need a new name for the old plan'—the same plan there was under the Liberals. Do you think that the Liberals, the Nationals and the Independents in this House were not dedicated to doing the best thing with regard to housing on behalf of their constituents? No. Every one of them wanted to do the best thing. The largest cohort of people becoming homeless are women over 50—in a country like Australia! And it's everywhere. It's in our regions and it's in our cities. Women over 50 are either couch surfing, sleeping in cars or going to agencies for help for overnight accommodation. Housing is a really important issue for people in Australia. In a rich country such as ours, we should be getting the stock out there. We might have to make some innovative and different programs, like dongas on blocks in a row, but just put people in decent housing.

As the member for Paterson said, it's great to come home. I've never suffered homelessness, ever, and my children have never gone without a feed. I can't imagine what it would be like to be in the position that so many Australians are today.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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