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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6417

Ms MACKLIN (Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (11:15 AM) —While we are talking about competence, I just remind the honourable member that this is a debate about the appropriation bills, consideration in detail on the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Portfolio. I remind the member—he may be ignorant in this regard—that the matter he raises is a portfolio responsibility of the Treasurer and is not to be considered as part of this consideration in detail because it is not part of the appropriation bills. He should get his facts straight before he comes in and takes up the time of the Main Committee. It is of course quite possible that, as normal, the opposition has absolutely nothing of a productive nature to say about housing and so they come in here and waste the time of the committee.

Mr Robert —What about the underspend?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms S Bird)—Order! I will tolerate a degree of interjection but if it gets too much I will pull you up. I think that is enough; thank you.

Ms MACKLIN —He obviously does not like having it pointed out that he is completely wrong in raising this matter in this consideration in detail, which has nothing to do with that particular matter. As the member raises the very important issue of housing, I take the opportunity to mention that this government, by contrast to the previous government, has a housing policy and a housing minister, something which we did not see for the last 12 years. This government has decided as part of our Nation Building and Jobs Plan to invest $6.4 billion building around 20,000 new homes and upgrading thousands more, providing homes for people in a way that we did not see under the previous government. In fact, under the previous government all we saw in housing were continued cuts to the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement.

This government is serious about increasing the number of homes for people, especially those who are the most disadvantaged in our community. My colleague the Minister for Housing is doing an outstanding job working with our state and territory colleagues to get homes built and thousands of homes upgraded—homes that otherwise were not able to be lived in.

Other areas where we have had initiatives in housing include the National Rental Affordability Scheme. We never saw a program like this from the previous government; never was it considered at the Commonwealth level when Mr Howard was the Prime Minister that we would get involved in making sure that rental homes would be affordable for those low- and middle-income people who are struggling in the rental market. This member comes in here, makes a lot of noise and gets it all wrong because this is not actually the appropriation that is relevant to the issue that he raises. I think it is time we used this period for the purpose for which it was intended.