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Thursday, 29 November 2012
Page: 14072

Mr RUDD (Griffith) (12:07): A place to call home is fundamental. Home is a base from which we raise our kids, from which we become members of our community and where we seek to build our lives and our careers. However, for many Australians the reality of homelessness and housing vulnerability is all too familiar.

I would like to tell a story about a potential housing crisis in my own neighbourhood in Brisbane. Just a few minutes from my own home is the Monte Carlo Caravan Park. The park was established in 1947 and has 152 sites which house almost 200 people. Many of these people are some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Almost 60 per cent are over 65, many of whom are aged pensioners. More than half have been living at the park for more than five years. Ninety-five per cent of residents own their own dwelling—many have spent their life savings renovating their slice of the Australian dream.

In July, the then Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works sent letters to every single resident telling them that the Newman government intends to sell the ground from under them. Not one single resident has been offered alternative accommodation. Not one single resident has been offered counselling about this decision. I have met with these good folk now on a number of occasions, and their stories are quite heartbreaking. Not only is this just plain wrong but it does not make economic sense either.

Let us say the Newman government earns several million dollars from the sale of the land; the truth is most of these people would now have to be accommodated in one form of social housing or another at what is likely to be a much greater cost to the government and the community—assuming such social housing could be organised in time. But, regrettably, and typically of the decisions we are seeing emerging from the Liberal National Party government in Queensland, we are seeing a wrecking ball put through basic public services, including housing. This Liberal-National Party government has already slashed more than $40 million in health funding for Southside hospitals. This will result in the loss of preventative health programs and essential front-line workers who deliver basic health services and will compromise public health care in Queensland over time.

The Liberal-National Party's decision to evict the residents of the Monte Carlo Caravan Park is part of their slash-and-burn agenda. They do not have a mandate to sell this park. Nothing was said about this prior to the state election. They failed to consult with any of the stakeholders, and they have supposedly asked residents to fork out money for a valuation. And yet the state budget documents identify $12 million in revenue from the sale of three parks, including the Monte Carlo Caravan Park. Clearly, this indicates that the state government has already undertaken some form of 'valuation assessment'. If so, why tell the residents to undertake such an expensive exercise themselves? Why won't the local state member and the minister for housing, now that the former minister has been replaced, be up-front with the residents? Why doesn't the federal member for the area pick up the phone, call his Liberal-National colleagues and stand up for his constituents? Is there nobody in the Liberal-National Party—council, state or federal—who will stand up for the residents of this caravan park? They do not actually live in my electorate. They live next door. They used to be in my electorate a long time ago.

The residents tell me that the state government is still in consultation mode—whatever that may mean. I have a real fear that this consultation process will only result in one outcome. For these good folk and quite poor people this is simply not good enough. The state government is stringing these vulnerable residents along. It is not good enough that the state government refuses to release critical information about the economic modelling on the sale of the caravan park.

To further add to the matter, the minister who was responsible for looking after these residents has been forced to resign on another matter. I am informed that the new minister has started the process again by asking the residents to resubmit their proposal, a process that could take another two to three weeks. This makes for a very unhappy Christmas for these good people who live in this particular area. It is not good enough that, after 10 weeks of so-called consultations, the residents are still in the dark about their future. Nor should they have to bear the brunt of a Liberal-National Party government in chaos, with multiple resignations and accusations spreading right across the ranks of that government. That is why, very simply, I am calling on the Liberal-National Party government of the state of Queensland and the new minister for housing to do the right thing and stop this sale. It is unnecessary, it is inhuman and it makes no economic sense. I have made it clear in the past that how we deal with our most vulnerable is a window into the hearts of how we choose to govern our communities.