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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 6988

Public Housing

Mr HUSIC (ChifleyGovernment Whip) (14:46): My question is to the Minister for Housing, Homelessness and Small Business. Minister, how are the government's pension increases supporting people across the country with the cost of housing including the 5,000 pensioners in my electorate who depend on public housing? Are there any obstacles to getting the extra money into the hands of pensioners?

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR (GortonMinister for Housing, Minister for Homelessness and Minister for Small Business) (14:46): I thank the member for Chifley for his question and for his ongoing advocacy for the 5,000 pensioners in his electorate who rely on public housing. The government is making significant payments to support pensioners as part of our clean energy household assistance package. These payments will support low-income public housing tenants in adjusting to the cost-of-living impact of the carbon price. Single pensioners will receive $338 and couples will receive $510 combined a year to help transition with these reforms. This is in addition to the historic federal government investment in New South Wales in delivering 7,000 new social housing homes and repairs and maintenance to 31,000 homes in that state.

I have been asked by the honourable member whether there are any obstacles to delivering the money to pensioners. I am afraid that there are obstacles. I was indeed shocked last week when Premier Barry O'Farrell announced he was going to take away some of the money that was going to be provided by this government to help 84,000 New South Wales pensioners in public housing. Barry O'Farrell's decision to hike public housing rents means a single pensioner on maximum rate will now pay an extra $84.50 a year. This is nothing more than a cash grab by the New South Wales government from age pensioners, from pensioners with disability and from veterans in our community who rely on public housing in New South Wales. Barry O'Farrell has shown more regard for lining his own pocket than for helping pensioners in that state.

Opposition members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Order! The minister will resume his seat. I find the statement from the minister unacceptable. I ask the minister to withdraw and to return to the question.

Mr BRENDAN O'CONNOR: I withdraw. But in relation to that I call upon Premier Barry O'Farrell to reverse this terrible decision that is impacting on pensioners in New South Wales and I call upon Premier Newman and Premier Baillieu not to take the money from the 36,000 pensioners in public housing in Queensland and the 46,000 pensioners in public housing in Victoria. I call upon those two premiers not to follow the despicable path of the New South Wales government by taking money away from pensioners—those who are marginalised, those who deserve our support, those who in many cases have helped build this country. What a terrible, despicable act by the New South Wales government! They have an opportunity to reverse the decision, and I call upon Barry O'Farrell to do just that.