3 November 2016
Over recent years the Commonwealth government has had a dismissive attitude to issues of housing affordability. We had Joe Hockey as treasurer telling Australians that the key to housing affordability was getting a better job, and the House will recall the Prime Minister’s great housing intervention suggesting that kids should go and get rich parents. Last week I welcomed Treasurer Scott Morrison finally joining this debate. However, Mr Morrison’s approach is to suggest that the states have not done enough. Queensland is already doing the heavy lifting when it comes to housing affordability which is reflected in the work that is already being done by our Treasurer and the Deputy Premier that will be backed in by our forthcoming housing strategy. If the federal LNP is serious about addressing affordability, there are steps that it can take immediately. Tomorrow I will be attending a meeting of state and Commonwealth housing and homelessness ministers and high on the agenda is the need for certainty around the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness which established matched funding. This agreement is set to expire in the middle of next year and, as yet, the homelessness sector has no certainty around what its long-term funding will be.
Homelessness is a complex issue and, through the national partnership agreement, we fund specialist homelessness services that deliver a helping hand, a safe place to sleep and somewhere to get something to eat. There are a range of responses that helped almost 45,000 Queensland men, women and children last year. We helped them find security and dignity whilst they are experiencing homelessness. I want to make sure that organisations like Micah Projects headquartered here in Brisbane, St Vincent de Paul and the Gold Coast Project for Homeless Youth can plan for the long term. They need to be given the space and the funding to provide innovative responses to homelessness.
Tomorrow is the day for the federal government to come to the table with a concrete plan. That plan has to be to commit to providing the men and women working at the pointy end of social assistance with security around their own jobs and around their very important work. Genuinely increasing genuine affordable housing supply is important, which is why we are developing a comprehensive housing strategy that looks at the needs of the whole housing market. Unless the LNP in Canberra can work with us to give support to the homeless workforce here in Queensland and around the nation, we will go backwards in our efforts to assist people living through homelessness. Queensland’s position is clear. I know Queenslanders care about their community and I know that they demand certainty for funding in the homelessness space. I am calling on their behalf for a new Commonwealth-state partnership to improve outcomes for vulnerable Queenslanders over the long term. Thousands of Queensland workers should not have to fight for funding for their important work on this important issue every three years. I call on all members of this House to back Queensland’s call for certainty in homelessness funding.