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Newman Government must fund critical tenant services



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Mark Butler

SHADOW MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE CHANGE AND WATER

Media Release by The Hon Mark Butler MP

Newman Government must fund critical tenant services 23 May 2013

Joint Media Release with:

 The Hon Wayne Swan MP Deputy Prime Minster Treasurer

The Gillard Government today announced a $2.5 million life-raft to the Queensland

Government to continue critical advice and advocacy services to vulnerable tenants for

another six months.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Government funding offer, if accepted by Premier Newman,

would allow current services to continue under the Queensland Tenant Advice and Advocacy

Service.

“I would hope Mr Newman takes this opportunity to right a wrong - sit down with the

Queensland Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service in good faith negotiations on a long term

agreement,” Mr Swan said.

“These services are recognised as a core state and territory responsibility - every other

jurisdiction in Australia funds tenant advice and advocacy services - and last month all states

and territories agreed in principle to continue providing these services.”

Minister for Housing and Homelessness said providers’ contracts end on 30 June 2013 but

the Newman Government had refused to budge on its decision to de-fund the service.

“This decision is hanging like a black cloud over the head of vital homelessness services

around Queensland,” Mr Butler said.

“The most effective way to reduce homelessness is to prevent people becoming homeless in

the first place and services such as QTAAS help to do exactly that.

“I call on Campbell Newman to come to the table and re-open discussion with QTAAS so

that a solution can be found. At least sit down and have a constructive conversation about the

continuation of services in good faith.

“Should the Newman Government refuse to fund dedicated Tenant Advice and Advocacy

Services, the Australian Government will be looking at all available levers, including denying

requests from Queensland to approve delays in delivering social housing initiatives through

funding underspends and to provide access to the proposed Housing Payment Deduction

Scheme.

“Already, the uncertainty caused by the Queensland Government’s decision, has resulted in

existing TAASQ services in Cairns to cease due to staffing issues and this stalemate has to

end.

“Every day, dedicated workers in these support services work hard to help tenants keep a roof

over their head and avoid becoming homeless. They deserve to know what their own future

holds.”

Mr Butler said the loss of this service would hurt most for older Australians, people with a

disability and people living in caravan parks who are most vulnerable.

“The Commonwealth has stepped in to try and find a solution in good faith but we can’t do

all the heavy lifting ourselves - at some point the Newman Government, who are actually

responsible for delivering these services, have to stand up,” Mr Butler said.

The Gillard Labor Government had invested an unprecedented $26 billion in housing and

homelessness since coming to government.