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Monday, 25 May 2009
Page: 4075

Mr CLARE (3:12 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women. Can the minister inform the House of the government’s progress in supporting jobs by building 20,000 new social housing dwellings?

Ms PLIBERSEK (Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women) —I thank the member for Blaxland for his question. At last count there were over 140 separate projects underway in his electorate—tens of millions of dollars being spent in his local schools; on local black spots; with councils on priority community infrastructure projects, on small infrastructure and large infrastructure; and 60 units of social housing in the member’s electorate, at a cost of $16.8 million. It is worth remembering two very important things: not one of these projects would have proceeded if the opposition had their way and not one of the jobs that these projects deliver would have proceeded if the opposition had their way. In fact, these projects, which are already underway, are supporting jobs today by building the infrastructure that we will need tomorrow.

The government took early and decisive action through the economic stimulus packages, including by setting aside $6.4 billion for social housing, $400 million on repairs and maintenance, underway right across the country—and I have visited many of these marvellous projects, employing local tradespeople during much-needed work—but also building new housing. I was so excited on Saturday to visit the first house built under the stimulus package. It was terrific to go to Blaxland with the member and see a home that was built by Degree Constructions, a small building company headed by Bob Geybi. The site supervisor there, Adam Iacono, told me that 52 separate tradespeople had been on that site, and three apprentices, including one young apprentice who had been hired specifically in response to the social housing stimulus work that this company had picked up. Jack Tsoi was hired as an apprentice because of this work that Degree Constructions had got through the social housing stimulus package; and Nick Ferris and Aaron Ridolfi, two other apprentices, were there on the day as well. I had a lovely chat to them; they are terrific young men. Adam said that Degree Constructions was also building 15 units in Guildford and another freestanding house in Villawood as part of the stimulus package. He was terrifically pleased. He was saying not a lot of work was out there in the current circumstances, and they were very, very grateful for the work that was coming through the social housing stimulus package.

But it is not just them. It is not just the builders and electricians and bricklayers and carpet layers and plasterers and tilers. It is also the people who supply those materials right across Australia where those materials are being manufactured.

I was very fortunate to meet the Sada family, who will be moving into their home tomorrow. I think that Tuesday or Wednesday was going to be moving day for Mr and Mrs Sada and their three children, including 13-year-old Jonathan who has cerebral palsy. This home is perfect for the needs of their family. Jonathan has a room with a tiled floor. The hallways are wider and the walls are reinforced so that when he needs lifting equipment as he becomes older and larger and heavier, lifting equipment can be put in. There is a bathroom into which he can be wheeled more easily, and his mother and father will not have to break their backs lifting him in and out of the shower, as they were doing previously. This home is perfect for this family. It has got a 3,000-litre water tank. They are using the water for the toilets, the laundry and the gardens. It has got energy efficient appliances so that they will be saving on their electricity bills. It is a terrific story for the Sada family.

It is also a terrific story for Degree Constructions and for the work that they provide and the work that they are doing with their own tradespeople, their subcontractors and the suppliers. It is good news all round to see the work that was supported through the nation-building economic stimulus plan by this side—though not by that side, mind you—providing homes for Australia’s neediest people, and jobs. Jobs in construction are one of the biggest employers in this country.