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Transcript of interview with Natasha Mitchell: ABC Radio National: 28 August 2013: Doug Cameron, discusses Housing affordability; and Labor's $31 billion investment in housing and homelessness

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E & O E - PROOF ONLY _____________________________________________________________

Subjects: Housing affordability; Labor’s $31 billion investment in housing and homelessness _____________________________________________________________

NATASHA MITCHELL: It’s Life Matters and this is part of our pre-election talkback series, and today we’re talking about housing affordability. What would you like to see on the national agenda in the lead up to the election? What do you hear, what do you want to hear from politicians on this issue? Perhaps you’re in a long waiting queue for social housing. Perhaps you’re finding it very hard to find affordable rent or perhaps you are under severe mortgage stress. Give us a call - 1300 225 576 or 1300 CALL RN and you can text us too 0418 226 576. Let’s come to Doug Cameron, are you the Parliamentary Secretary for Housing and Homelessness?

DOUG CAMERON: I certainly am.

MITCHELL: Now how are you hearing this conversation, Doug Cameron?

CAMERON: Probably the same as your people on the program this morning - there are really big issues in housing and homelessness and that’s why Kevin Rudd in 2007 said that this was a priority for the Government.

We have invested $31 billion in housing and homelessness over the period of the Labor Government - it has had some really good effects in terms of the [National Rental Affordability Scheme]. We’ve built under the Social Housing Initiative 20,000 homes plus we have refurbished 80,000. Now this is -

MITCHELL: Isn’t that just a drop in the ocean though, Doug?

CAMERON: Well, I was just going to say that - this is from a position where since 1996 there had been really no net increase in social housing in this country.

So what we’re trying to do is make a huge investment to try and turn around the culture about trying to increase the housing stock, which is fundamental.

And that’s why we’ve got big issues with homelessness. We’ve now got people retiring with mortgages and then not being able to service the mortgage, using up the money from their mortgage on the rental market and then looking for social housing when they run out of money and can’t afford the rental market.

So there are huge issues in this area, and it’s ok for people to say ‘Well, you know, people are not doing anything about it’, but we have invested $31 billion in this area and we will invest more in the future.

MITCHELL: Doug Cameron, people are still waiting in very long queues for social housing though and the Greens have announced a social housing package as part of their election platform to create 122,000 new social housing homes over 10 years. This must surely need to be an urgent priority for any government, and why aren’t we hearing about this from either party in a pronounced way in this campaign?

CAMERON: Well I’m not sure why you’re not hearing about it because I suppose if we talk about housing and homelessness I’m not sure that that’s News Limited’s agenda, so they won’t put it in their press. The problem is, News Limited set the agenda every day for the -

MITCHELL: News Limited is only one outlet -

CAMERON: But News Limited set your agenda. News Limited do that and you talk about the issues that News Limited talk about - I’m not saying you personally, but the ABC lift off the News Limited papers. So that’s one of the problems - you can’t get a good debate on the key important issues.

MITCHELL: Look, Doug Cameron thank you very much for calling in this morning, we appreciate it.

CAMERON: No worries.

MITCHELL: Doug Cameron, he’s the Parliamentary Secretary for Housing and Homelessness, good to get a call from him.


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