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Thursday, 13 September 2007
Page: 117

Ms OWENS (9:30 AM) —New figures from the Supreme Court of New South Wales on mortgage repossession orders have recently become available under freedom of information, and they are cause for considerable alarm. They reflect a trend in my electorate that many people are feeling less secure—there is less job security and there are rising costs, rising interest rates and high levels of personal debt. Eleven years after John Howard claimed that he wanted Australians to be relaxed and comfortable and just a few months after his insulting statement that working families have never been better off, we have rising levels of insecurity. And now we have proof that their concerns are founded in reality—rising rates of mortgage repossessions.

In Parramatta we had as many mortgage repossessions in the first half of 2007 as we did for the whole of 2006. In Wentworthville in the first half of this year that they reached the same level that they did for the whole of 2006. In Northmead the writs of possession issued in the first half of this year were double what they were for the whole of last year. In Blacktown, one of the worst suburbs affected, repossessions from January to July of this year have already reached the alarmingly high figure of 41, which is well on the way to the 48 writs of possession issued in 2006. These figures do not take into account the number of people who sell their home to avoid it being repossessed.

We on this side of the House have positively nagged the government, trying to convince them that, in spite of their view that working families have never been better off, many families are struggling, as are singles, pensioners, sole parents, people on disability pensions and working people generally. Rising interest rates, steep rent increases, higher petrol prices, rising grocery prices, rising childcare fees and workplace insecurity caused by the extreme and unfair Work Choices are all taking their toll on working families and individuals in Western Sydney.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, has simply stopped listening to Australian families and the many community organisations that have begged for more support for affordable housing. He did not even notice the mounting financial pressures people are facing when he claimed that Australian working families have never been better off. Now, with an election looming, the Prime Minister has rediscovered the need to plan for the future. How can the Prime Minister look to the future when he does not even see the present for individuals and families living in Western Sydney?

Here is the proof of what any member in this House would know if they spent any time at all out in the community: repossessions are at double the rate they were last year in many of the suburbs around Parramatta and Blacktown, rents are going through the roof and working people and working families are doing it tough in Western Sydney. They need a government that will act. A Rudd Labor government will work on housing affordability. Kevin Rudd and Labor have a real plan. The people of Western Sydney need action and they need a government that actually notices the problem.