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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10364


Ms HALL (9:06 PM) —I must say that I think the members on the other side of the House who have spoken to this motion should hang their heads in shame, because the decline in public housing and the blow-out in rental affordability did not happen under the Rudd Labor government, which has taken tangible steps to address the issue, unlike under the 12 long years of the Howard government. That was 12 long years of money for housing being pulled out of the states. I think it is an absolute disgrace that the previous government slashed $3.1 billion from the public housing budget—a 30 per cent cut in real funding.

I was actually a state member of parliament when the Howard government was elected. At the time of its election there was a waiting list for public housing, but within 12 months that waiting list had doubled. The severe cuts in funding by the Howard government have meant that social housing stock has not kept up with the growth in population. In my electorate there is a 13-year wait for public housing. That has been the case for a very long period of time, and it occurred under the Howard government. And then members on the other side of this House come in and sanctimoniously move motions condemning the Rudd government for the shortage of public housing. It did not happen over night.

One of the things this government has done is work with the states and territories. The Rudd government will bring together all funding for affordable housing under the new affordable housing agreement. The new agreement will at least maintain the funding levels of the program that is in place—something that did not happen under the previous government.

I notice that another part of the motion that has been put to the parliament by the members opposite calls for rental assistance to be increased. Simply increasing rental assistance in this climate will do nothing to address the supply problem. It is likely that the money would go straight into the pockets of the landlords.

In the electorate of Shortland, which falls within the Lake Macquarie area, there is currently a two per cent vacancy rate. One of the previous speakers from the other side said that a three per cent vacancy rate was thought to be a tight market, so you can just imagine how difficult it is for people to find accommodation within the Lake Macquarie area. And this situation has developed under the previous government. The Rudd government recognised the fact that there was a real problem with housing in Australia, and that is why we introduced measures such as the National Rental Affordability Scheme. That legislation was debated in this House in the last sitting week.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. DGH Adams)—Order! The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.