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Budget 2022-23 - Affordable Housing Strategy


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Tags: Housing Crisis, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR question to TREASURER, Mr FERGUSON

In handing down your first Budget, Treasurer, you claimed:

This Government is implementing the most comprehensive and ambitious affordable housing strategy in Tasmania's history.

The available data makes a falsehood of this claim. In the past eight years, according to the Productivity Commission, only 578 additional properties have been delivered. In 2016-17 your predecessor promised 941 new homes but only 186 were delivered. In 2017 18, the data shows a net loss of 212 public and community homes. In 2018 19, Tasmanians were promised 1500 new homes, but so far only 697 have been reported as finished.

We have since been promised 10 000 new homes within a decade, but the only new money in the Budget for housing starts the year after next, and a total of $31 million out of $1.1 billion, just 3 per cent, is allocated. It is not comprehensive and ambitious, it is a con. How is this first Budget of yours anything but a failure to understand and respond to the depth of Tasmania's housing crisis?

 

ANSWER

Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Clark, Ms O'Connor, Leader of the Greens, for her question. One thing that Ms O'Connor is consistent in is her position that we need more housing. The other thing that Ms O'Connor is consistent in is that I know she will deliver an alternative budget this week. The Greens will indicate their priorities. They will show how they will pay for them. Importantly, they will identify what their priorities are as different from the Government's, and no doubt we will debate that in the order of the day today or tomorrow.

However, I must arrest the claims that are being made by Ms O'Connor. We are delivering significant new housing supply in previous budgets, and in this Budget as well. Ms O'Connor, I am aware of your statements in the press. I invite you to speak to housing providers who are partnering with Government to deliver new housing supply.

In last year's budget, we doubled down on our commitment to 1500 additional homes by the end of June of next year, and added to it a new target of an additional 2000, out to 2027. The Leader of the Greens is referencing only the additional $35 million in the new housing package. She is being misleading in those public statements. It is open to Ms O'Connor to correct the record, if it was an inadvertent misleading. She has failed to acknowledge the other half a billion dollars, that is also allocated in the housing package, including $204 million in the coming financial year 2022-23.

It is simple maths. We are taking out to 2023 our total package of support to $1.5 billion. We could not be clearer about that. We accept that there is always more to do. That is why we have not just short-term targets, medium targets and the most ambitious target of 10 000 homes by 2032, it is exactly what Tasmanians are prioritizing. They are our priorities and we are strengthening Tasmania through this Budget. I am extremely grateful for the incredible support that our Government has received from stakeholders since last Thursday.

I want to also correct Ms O'Connor's - I believe - inaccurate statement in the prelude to the question. Our Government is building 1169 homes this year. We will meet our target of 1500 by June 2023, and that does rise to the new targets that I have outlined already. I am surprised that Ms O'Connor would go to other sources of information which are contrasting to ours.

One thing Ms O'Connor may be doing, but I will examine the record and come back if need be, but I believe what Ms O'Connor may be doing is making the same mistake that Ms Haddad has been making: you are only counting government sponsored and owned homes. You are not prepared to count our partnerships with the non-government housing providers who, as far as the ABS is concerned, are not considered government, and yet without those partnerships, it would not be plausible to deliver 1500 additional homes by June of next year.

We are finding that by creating these partnerships with the non-government sector community housing providers we are getting great outcomes. Ms O'Connor, I invite you to have another look at that. I am more than prepared to be transparent about that, and I can provide you, or Mr Barnett may provide you with that detail. We are getting great outcomes. When I held the portfolio before, I told the House about St Joseph's affordable homes, which is the most exciting social enterprise in the state right now. They are building homes for people through Centrecare Evolve Housing. They are not considered government houses, but we are sponsoring them. We are putting in the cash and often the church is putting in the land, those are partnerships. Ms O'Connor, I invite you to have another look at that. Those partnerships are creating homes for people who need them, people who are eligible for social housing. They need those homes. St Joseph's is creating jobs and opportunities for some disadvantaged kids in our state.

Mr SPEAKER - If you could wind up please, Treasurer.

Mr FERGUSON - I could not be prouder of the work they are doing. I will conclude on this point: last year we saw 4000 approvals for dwellings in Tasmania. It is an indication of the pipeline that is being sponsored not just by Government but by mums and dads around Tasmania who are investing in their new homes. It is a great time to be Tasmanian, and we will continue to meet these challenges with a Budget that supports a stronger Tasmania.