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Infrastructure and Transport – Housing

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Tags: Housing, Housing Crisis, Infrastructure

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. I'm a bit surprised that that information is not available. I am interested in your infrastructure priorities, minister. We have 54 per cent of the infrastructure budget allocated towards roads and bridges, and just 15 per cent to human services and housing. We have $712.5 million allocated to roads and bridges this year, but across the forward Estimates in new money for housing there is only $35 million.

Do you regard housing as critical social infrastructure - particularly given we are in the grip of a housing crisis, there is a critical supply shortage, rents are going up, people are living rough because they cannot find a home?

Mr FERGUSON - Yes, I do.

Ms O'CONNOR - I am interested in finding out how you prioritise infrastructure spending when we are in the grip of a housing crisis and it is such a relatively small portion of the infrastructure budget.

Mr FERGUSON - A large investment is being made into social and affordable housing and I would be happy to explore that more fully with you at the Treasury outputs. Minister Barnett has been very clear, as Minister for State Development, Construction, and Housing, that housing is a major investment the Government is embarking on across the state. There is over $520 million in the Budget and forward Estimates to deliver on our housing initiatives. We are on track to meet our targets, noting that the residential and commercial construction sectors are running at capacity, delivering homes for Government and private sector developers. The amount of money that the Government is investing in housing is very substantial.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay, you have said a major investment in the housing area, you say more than $500 million across the forward Estimates in new money. As you know, as Treasurer, there is $35 million which is 3 per cent of the $1.1 billion that has been promised by Government to deliver social and affordable housing. What process do you go through as infrastructure minister to determine your priorities in terms of infrastructure funding, particularly when we have such a critical housing situation?

Mr FERGUSON - As Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, I do not make determinations on what other portfolios allocate to their infrastructure forward program.

Ms O'CONNOR - You do as Treasurer.

Mr FERGUSON - Correct, and as a member of Cabinet; but not in my role as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. That is quite discrete in that respect. The Government makes priorities and decisions around the priorities that we want to address. Housing is very much a principal focus for the government.

Ms O'CONNOR - It has been de-prioritised.

Mr FERGUSON - Not only are we putting more money into housing, we got relief from the federal housing debt which we are also reinvesting into additional housing supports. Not just houses by the way, but also refuges and emergency shelters for people who are on hard times. It is $1.5 billion that we anticipate over the 10-year period to achieve our broader goals, so that we are not just reaching for the immediate goals of 1500 by the middle of next year and 2000 in the two years after that.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is just Monopoly money though, when you are casting something out for the next ten years, isn't it really?

Mr FERGUSON - Obviously, I would reject that. But I take the point and I agree with you that housing is vital. I think you used the word 'critical' infrastructure and, as I said to you in parliament, I agree that all of the above are important priorities including in housing.