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Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Tags: Housing Crisis

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for STATE DEVELOPMENT, CONSTRUCTION and HOUSING, Mr FERGUSON

Last week you announced the construction of luxury apartments for the wealthy at Macquarie Point, disappointing the locals with a complete lack of vision for the site. Almost every day of the week our office is contacted by Tasmanians desperate for a place to live. As two examples of many, a pregnant, single woman with three children escaping family violence and another with four children, one of whom has a disability also escaping family violence. Both families are homeless.

We formed the view over months that your office does not want to know about these people. You have set up a new system where our efforts to help constituents to find a home are now funnelled to the department. Instead of homes for people we get updates. With your predecessors we had much more help and even success securing accommodation for desperate Tasmanians.

Are you and your office too busy planning apartments and cafes for the wealthy to be bothered helping desperate Tasmanians find homes.

 

ANSWER

Mr Speaker, I encourage the member to leave her jibes at home. Housing Tasmanians is a serious matter and the Government takes it seriously. I will deal with the elements of the question one-by-one.

First I will address the point in relation to the Macquarie Point Development Corporation's very exciting securing of Milieu that is activating $100 million of development at Macquarie Point. It has been long-awaited and well-earnt. That is entirely consistent with the master plan that I though was bipartisan in this place. There is a lot more to come. I noticed in a letter to the editor today that one reader has written in and is of the view, for example, that this now sets aside all the other things that were promised for Macquarie Point. It shows that some people have misunderstood and have got it wrong.

The Antarctic and science precinct, the park and the development of the district are all still part of the master plan. The Milieu development is just 10 per cent of the site and the corporation is getting on with the job and doing a great.

We are delivering more housing for Tasmanians at a pace that has never been seen by any previous government. I would only carve out of that possibly since the post-Second World War housing schemes that were put in place for veterans and their families.

If the member who asked the question would dare like to compare her record with this Government, we are outpacing her record by miles in building more homes. Ms O'Connor likes to talk about housing demand. Housing demand was down under the Labor-Greens government because people were leaving the state looking for work. That is a fact. It is not a record she should be very proud of.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, on relevance. Our staff are suffering vicarious trauma from this -

Mr SPEAKER - What is the point of order?

Ms O'CONNOR - The point of order is, for the people who are contacting us could the minister explain why his office is so obstructive in finding homes for people? That was the question.

Mr FERGUSON - I would like to note that the member got very prickly when her record was brought into this House. It shows just how defensive the Greens are on their record.

Ms O'Connor - I defended it because we built more than you have in four years, than you have so far.

Mr FERGUSON - We are building houses at a rate that outpaces the member who interjects by miles. I have two further points to make for the House, if members would like to listen to what I have to say. I have deliberately put in place a new and better process for people like you, Ms O'Connor and every one of Tasmania's MPs and senators to get better and faster information from my department. Ms O'Connor, you know that because I told you that at Budget Estimates and you told me -

Ms O'Connor - I am telling you, it does not work.

Mr FERGUSON - You told me that would be very welcome. I am very pleased that that system has been put in place

 

Opposition members interjecting.

Mr FERGUSON - Excuse me, if you just have a go at listening -

Mr SPEAKER - Minister, in order to prevent interjections can you put your comment through the Chair, please. I ask other members not to interject.

Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, one of the frustrations I had as the minister receiving correspondence from colleagues, was that I recognise that there was a time delay and there was opportunity for a more efficient way for people to get better and quicker information out of my department without it needing to come back and forth through my office. That does not prevent -

Dr Woodruff - Mr Ferguson would not want to be touched.

Mr SPEAKER - Order

Mr FERGUSON - Mr Speaker, if members want to highlight a serious concern with a constituent that is in front of them they continue to be welcomed by my office. They will continue to be welcomed to write to me or to phone my office. I reject the assertion made by Ms O'Connor because it is political. Where members of this House - Ms Haddad, Mr Willie, Ms Johnston and more recently you, Ms O'Connor - have raised specific and concerning instances of people who need a better deal we will continue to receive them and do our best to work with you. I am disappointed that you bring it into the House in the way that you have.

The Government recognises that MPs are seen as people who constituents can bring their concerns to. I encourage that. I am very disappointed, Ms O'Connor, in the way you have brought this question forward because I do not think that the record fairly reflects the service and the intervention -

Ms O'Connor - It absolutely does and we waited -

Dr Woodruff - That is disgraceful. That is so revolting.

Mr FERGUSON - Excuse me, the service -

Dr Woodruff - Why do you not find a house for those two women? They are escaping domestic violence.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr FERGUSON - The service and the intervention that this office is prepared to make where the system has occasionally not given people the best service that is required.

I want to update the House that the August 2021 dashboard shows that since the commencement of the Affordable Housing Strategy in 2015 we have built 1124 new long-term homes, 991 social housing properties and 133 units of supported accommodation, including 296 in the past year. There are more than 500 homes under construction right now and approximately 200 due for completion at the end of next month.

The Government is investing. We are building, we are delivering. If individual constituents and MPs need extra intervention and support they continue to be welcomed by my office.