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State Development, Construction and Housing – Housing Constituents

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Tags: Housing Crisis, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, like all members of parliament, our office receives constant contact from constituents who are either homeless or getting a rent increase, the whole range of suffering circumstances. I worry about my staff suffering the vicarious trauma of not being able to effectively help people find homes

We hear all these gut-wrenching stories, then we do the right thing, which we have been encouraged to do, which is to get in contact with Homes Tasmania with our cases - with of course the permission of our constituents - looking for homes for people. Particularly, there have been some people who have been in the most precarious of circumstances but we always receive the same templated response. Only on the rarest occasions - you could count them on three fingers - have we got an outcome for our constituents in all these years. How will it be any different?

Mr BARNETT - First all, I thank you for your question and I want to thank you and Ella and other members of parliament around this table and in the parliament for your support for vulnerable and homeless Tasmanians.

Ms O'CONNOR - We all share that.

Mr BARNETT - I am passing on my thanks to you for your advocacy and your support around the parliament. I sincerely thank you for your ongoing advocacy, and please keep it up helping and supporting vulnerable and homeless Tasmanians. We are in the same boat. Wouldn't it be great to click the fingers and make it all go away? This is an issue that is affecting all of Australia, in fact it is global, but particularly across this country. Tasmania is no different, I meet with my other Housing ministers, they are in the same boat and they are very impressed with our model of operation in terms of the establishment of Home Tasmania and the skills-based board and the like.

We need to do things differently; it is a different situation now with Homes Tasmania. I would ask you to give us a chance to deliver, to help our vulnerable and homeless Tasmanians.

Ms O'CONNOR - How long are we going to have to wait?

Mr BARNETT - It started on 1 December. We are sitting here in early June and I think we have seen a significant improvement and a very big vision. Everyone I talk to in the community in this space is totally on board with our vision. They are shoulder to shoulder with us and they want to make a difference. I thank them, and that is why is an honour to be in this role as a Housing minister to work in this space. It is an honour and a privilege and I will keep going until we make that difference and deliver for vulnerable Tasmanians.

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, is it simply that there is not enough housing? Is that all it is? Seriously, I am sure you talk to other colleagues in Government, but I am sure every member at this table has these stories. In the last couple of years it has become so crushing and so fruitless. When people ring us up in tears, we really do not know what to say anymore and that makes me feel like a failure as a local MP because I can't help. It makes my staff stressed. How quickly are we going to see some change here?

Mr BARNETT - I would love to click the fingers. Like you and like others, we have a heart for change and to make a difference. We need to do things differently. It is a complex problem; it is a multifaceted response. I have made it clear that the priorities are supply, supply, supply. Having said that, we need those wrap-around services for the here and the now for emergency accommodation, for crisis accommodation for those that need help now.

We have got $36 million in our Budget for those wrap-around services, 17 different services that we provide. Safe Spaces is now on a more secure footing. Women's shelters, support for young people and older men. We are rolling it out and, yes, there is a lot more work to do and that is why we have a plan to do more work and to roll it out. It is not simple. I thank you for your advocacy and your support and for your encouragement, but we need a big vision to deliver on this complex and difficult problem which is affecting all of Australia. Tasmania is leading the way, we are spending more than $100 more per person in Tasmania than the national average, $330 compared to $230.

Ms O'CONNOR - That's about the depth of disadvantage and poverty here as much as anything else.

Mr BARNETT - That is at least a good indicator. Please acknowledge that as a good indicator in terms of our capital investment and operational expenses. Homes Tasmania is headed up by a very competent capable chief executive supported by capable management and team members, and I really appreciate their and they are doing a great job.