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Brough urged to develop national housing policy.



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Senator Kim Carr

Labor Senator for Victoria Shadow Minister for Housing; Urban Development; Local Government and Territories

January 25th 2006

02/06

Brough urged to develop national housing policy

Senator Kim Carr, Shadow Minister for Housing, today called on the new Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, and his junior Minister, John Cobb, to develop a national housing policy.

Senator Carr said: “Mr Brough will have a tough job as an advocate for social justice in the Howard Cabinet.

“I hope that Mr Brough will give due attention to the housing element of the portfolio and will push for greater Commonwealth Government commitment to this critical area.

“The Howard Government needs to recognise that secure and affordable housing is necessary for participation in education, employment and social activities.

“Perhaps the new Minister for Community Services, Mr Cobb, could take on the task of developing a national policy”, said Senator Carr.

Senator Carr said: “Of course, no single group in Australian society is more disadvantaged when it comes to housing than Indigenous people, who experience far higher levels of homelessness and overcrowding than other Australians.

“It is to be hoped that shifting Indigenous Affairs into the Family and Community Services portfolio will help to focus the Government more strongly on the need to address the problems in Indigenous housing.”

The Howard Government has neglected housing and homelessness issues over ten long years, including by:

• reducing Commonwealth funding for public and community housing under the Commonwealth State Housing Agreement by 30 per cent in real terms;

• failure to accept any of the Productivity Commission’s recommendations for Commonwealth action in its 2004 report on First Home Ownership; and

• ignoring an independent evaluation of homelessness services which found that a 15 per cent increase in funding is required just to maintain the viability of the sector.

Senator Carr said: “I encourage Mr Brough to read Labor’s discussion paper on urban development, housing and local government, Australia’s Future Cities, which details some of the key issues Australia is facing and the policy options for the Commonwealth.

“Labor’s paper proposes the development of a national housing strategy and a range of measures to improve housing outcomes for Australians.

“I wish Mr Brough the best of luck in pursuing these critical issues in Cabinet.”

Further information: Rachel Stephen-Smith 0417 118 677

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