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Thursday, 5 February 2009
Page: 605

Mr CHEESEMAN (4:06 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Housing and the Minister for the Status of Women. Will the minister inform the House how the new spending on social housing will support jobs and local communities?

Ms PLIBERSEK (Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women) —I want to thank the member for Corangamite for his question. He is a very keen and hardworking local member. The government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan includes an historic investment in social housing—$6.4 billion to build 20,000 new homes for needy Australians, including pensioners, homeless Australians and low-income families. There is also money to repair 2,500 homes. We know yesterday that the HIA suggested that this package would support 35,000 jobs in the construction industry in towns, suburbs, cities and regional areas.

The construction sector is one of the largest employers in this country. It accounts for about nine per cent of all jobs, which is almost one million workers. If these measures pass, work can start almost immediately, building and repairing homes right across Australia. States and territories have repair and maintenance backlogs. They can call tradespeople in to start that work straightaway. But there are also whole new projects ready to go. The land is set aside, the plans are drawn up, approvals have been given. It is all systems go. What they have been waiting on is funding. If this funding flows then we know that local builders, plumbers, tilers, electricians and carpenters can be employed. These people are facing less work otherwise and some of them are facing no work.

I have asked my state colleagues to tell me the sorts of proposals that they will be putting forward in our first tranche of building. The Victorian Minister for Housing, for example, has given me a few proposals that he would like to bring forward. I know that the member for Corangamite and the member for Corio will be very interested to know that it is proposed to build 89 homes in their area of Geelong. I know that the member for Ballarat will be very happy to know that 45 homes are to be built in Ballarat and Horsham. It would be very good to see the member for Mallee supporting this initiative to support those jobs in his local area.

The members for Indi and Murray might be interested to know that tradies in their electorates could be employed to build 51 new homes in their areas. That includes a 10-unit development for aged pensioners in Wodonga. Would you like to see that built? Would you like 10 units for aged pensioners in Wodonga? Each of these projects will support vital jobs in regional areas, keep tradespeople employed, keep apprentices busy and keep money in local communities.

The government has a plan to support jobs to build our nation for the future. It is a shame to see the Leader of the Opposition playing a political game when jobs are at stake, when small businesses and contractors are already doing it very tough. I am very sorry to see members opposite voting against construction jobs in their electorates, voting against work that will keep builders busy through these tough times—2009 will be a very tough year for the construction sector, anyway. And what the opposition wants to do is make that year even tougher.