Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for STATE DEVELOPMENT, CONSTRUCTION and HOUSING, Mr BARNETT
According to the latest data from your department, the social housing waiting list has achieved a new high of 4453 applications. Your stated target for the list is to increase to over 5000 by the end of this financial year. Shelter Tasmania recently released a major report showing how short stay accommodation is reducing home availability and fuelling rent increases. Rents continue to skyrocket. Hobart is leading the way, with a 50 per cent increase in just five years.
Tens of thousands of Tasmanians have been pushed into financial hardship and a new report today shows real-world economic consequences of the housing crisis. In your backyard, minister, Launceston businesses say they are suffering a $200 million a year hit because they cannot find staff, with the lack of housing and high rents being major factors. This is after eight years of Liberal government. The Greens agree that we need to build thousands more homes, but you know much more can be done. Will the Government you are part of consider any type of legislative reform that tackles other critical issues in housing, such as soaring rents, the lack of protections for tenants and the rapid expansion of short stay accommodation?
Mr Speaker, I thank the member for her question and her interest in this matter; as a former minister for housing she knows how important it is. She and members in this place and people across the state know what a priority our agenda is to address the housing and homelessness challenges in this state, which is why we have such a big and ambitious plan to grow our housing assets by 10 000 by 2032. It is a very ambitious plan. We have $204 million in this year's budget and $438 million over the forward Estimates. We have big plans and I am pleased to be able to get feedback from the community services sector and the building construction sector to make the changes that are necessary.
I will not comment and reflect on the Homes Tasmania bill but make it very clear that it is important that we have a housing authority. We have to do things differently in Tasmania to make a difference and we are very determined as a government to do so.
The question also spoke about short stay accommodation, and I appreciate the reflection on that. Tasmanians have embraced the home sharing economy and our Government certainly is committed to ensuring that plays a pivotal role in our visitor economy and the community. It was in 2019 that the minister, Mr Jaensch, delivered and introduced nation leading short stay legislation to develop a clearer picture of the sector and ensure everyone is playing by the same set of rules. We need to get a balanced approach and I believe that is what we are delivering in Tasmania. We already have the strongest short stay regulations in the country.
I must say, it is not a simple matter. It is not a quick fix. The advice I have is that short stay accommodation comprises less than 1 per cent of all dwellings and less than 5 per cent of all rented dwellings.
Ms O'Connor - Hobart has more Airbnbs than any other capital.
Mr BARNETT - We have a whole range of initiatives in place to roll out more homes. In terms of rental affordability, we acknowledge that which is why we have a range of initiatives in place to address that, including a private rental incentive scheme with more than $9 million in our budget this year. I thank the Treasurer for that.
Ms O'Connor - You need to get out more.
Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, if you interject again I will ask you to leave.
Mr BARNETT - Mr Speaker, there was a reference as well to Launceston City Council and the responses there. I acknowledge that the member for Bass, Ms Finlay, was a former member of the Launceston City Council who objected to some housing supply to support more housing in Launceston. It is on the public record; you just have to read the Examiner of a few days ago. That was appealed and the Tasmanian Planning Commission threw out the decision of the Launceston City Council and the views of the member for Bass were clearly noted on the public record.
Ms Finlay - Bring it on, minister!
Mr SPEAKER - Order.
Mr BARNETT - We as a government want to roll out more housing and here we have a member who did everything in her ability at the time to block that social housing rollout. We do not want this to happen.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, under standing order 45, relevance. The question that related to the impact on Launceston businesses is about the here and now and they will not be happy with that answer from the minister deflecting blame.
Mr SPEAKER - That is not a point of order. An explanation is not needed. It was raised in the question and the minister is quite appropriately dealing with that issue.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Mr Speaker. There was a reference to the Launceston City Council and what was happening in Launceston and the rollout of social housing. As a government, we are for it and we have initiatives in place to deliver it. Certain councils from time to time make decisions which are not in the best interests of their local community and in this place they have been caught out with the Tasmanian Planning Commission.
Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, again on relevance, Mr Speaker. There was no reference to Launceston City Council in the question.
Mr BARNETT - It was a reference to Launceston, Mr Speaker, and a decision has been made by the Launceston City Council with respect to housing and homelessness in their municipality. I am just drawing it to the member's and the public's attention. This is a decision for the Labor Party. Of course the federal Labor Party does not have confidence in you because of your -
Opposition members interjecting.
Mr BARNETT - Yes, come on. There is moaning and groaning. You are politically bankrupt. They have removed all decision-making from the Leader of the Opposition and the Labor Party in Tasmania. You are in strife.
Mr Winter - Oh, come on.
Member for Franklin - Mr Winter
Mr SPEAKER - Order. Member for Franklin, you have been warned before. I ask you to leave the Chamber until 12 o'clock.
Mr Winter withdrew.
Mr BARNETT - Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will wrap up and make it very clear that on this side of the House we have a very strong and ambitious plan to roll out our housing initiatives to make a difference. We have more work to do but we have a very big agenda. I appreciate the member's questions and note that we continue to work with the community services sector and all key stakeholders to make a difference in the lives of Tasmanians, particularly vulnerable Tasmanians.