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Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Page: 11675

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (16:29): Last week I had the great privilege of delivering some very good news to some hardworking, dedicated community workers in Ipswich. Arlene Lewis, Sally Spencer, Jacqui Clarke, Lyn Guilfoyle and Rachel Stokman work for the Ipswich Regional Advocacy Service Inc., known as IRASI, funded under the Queensland Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service. IRASI is a service that helps 600 tenants a month in the Ipswich and West Moreton region. In the last year it has supported 150 people in court. It is a service that was cruelly scrapped by the Queensland LNP government in what can only be described as a heartless funding grab. On 24 July IRASI was one of 23 services which help 80,000 Queenslanders a year. It was funded under TAAS, which was sent notices of withdrawal of funding by the Newman LNP government effective 31 October. The majority of funding for this service did not come from public coffers but from the interest on tenant's own bonds. The Queensland LNP government chose to neglect those tenants who need additional support dealing with landlords with leases and with the courts. The LNP state government chose to keep the interest on those tenancy bonds.

When IRASI approached Mr Ian Berry, the state member for Ipswich—an LNP member—he said, in the Queensland Times that it would be nice to continue to fund this service. He told IRASI that tenants already had enough protection, that if tenants had issues they could talk to their neighbours—a disgraceful comment and one that shows just how disgustingly short-sighted he is, and how poor is his knowledge, in respect of tenancy issues—despite the fact that he is a lawyer. Without IRASI, people who are disabled and people with education and life challenges will not be taken care of. Advocacy and advice services like IRASI help keep people in Ipswich, the Somerset region and the Lockyer Valley in their homes. They are critical to preventing homelessness.

The axing of this important service is just another example of the state LNP government's slashing of jobs and services at every opportunity with no thought for the long-term implications for those affected. However, I thank the Prime Minister and also the Minister for Homelessness and Minister for Housing, the Hon. Brendan O'Connor, for some good news for those women I mentioned, who provide these services through IRASI, and to the clients they support. While the state LNP government in Queensland is ripping funds away, this federal Labor government has provided $3.3 million in emergency funding for the Queensland Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service. We will make it a term and condition on any future national partnership funding on homelessness or national affordable housing agreement that state governments must foot the bill. It is not a problem in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales—all of which have LNP or coalition governments. It is a problem in Queensland. The Campbell Newman government in Queensland is short-sighted, heartless, brutal and callous and should reverse its decision in relation to this issue. I thank the minister for housing and homelessness in Canberra for the work he has done. (Time expired)