Housing Affordability

Housing Affordability

(Verbal Question, 10 May 2023, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on doing an excellent job this question time. My question is directed to the Minister for Health in his capacity as the Minister in this place representing the Minister for Housing. Given the huge increase in rents and growing social housing waiting lists, will the Minister increase the Private Rental Subsidy to ensure that those people eligible for priority social housing can access a safe, secure and affordable home?

Minister for Health, Minister for Regional Health, and Minister for the Illawarra and the South Coast: I thank the member for Sydney for his question. I think all of us, regardless of our political persuasions, would acknowledge the work that he has done for a long time in relation to housing, housing affordability and renting. I acknowledge that work, and I know that the Minister in the other place, the Hon. Rose Jackson, acknowledges it. The member specifically raised the Private Rental Subsidy. I am advised by the Minister that she is looking into rental reform and has been having regular discussions with the department around those issues. That is in conjunction with the commitments that we took to the election to ensure that every person in New South Wales has the opportunity to have a roof over their head.

I also acknowledge that the Minister for Housing talked about changes and reforms that the Government is looking at introducing to make it a lot fairer for renters in New South Wales. We are looking at further private rental reforms—some that the Minister has outlined—and a program of changes to maximise how many people can be assisted in line with those reforms. It is important that we also increase the housing supply to assist with the housing crisis. I acknowledge the work of the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces on behalf of the Government in that area.

We are also working with our Federal counterparts to deliver New South Wales' share of 50,000 social and affordable houses over the next five years. In my electorate, and I think in most members' electorates, housing is a real issue. Social housing and affordable housing are real and genuine issues, and we must all be able to have sensible conversations with our communities about them. I am having those conversations in my electorate about affordable housing coming to the region that I am so grateful to represent. We must take the lead in this regard. I acknowledge the Minister for Housing for getting that work underway, and I also acknowledge the member for Sydney for his significant influence on that.

We know that this work will take time. But we are listening to those affected by rent prices: families, individuals, pensioners and, of course, small business owners. It is important that we not only listen to them but also bring in policies that have a meaningful impact on them. Other private rental support options, including Rent Choice, Together Home and the Community Housing Leasing Program, are all strong programs that many of us are familiar with. They have been carried on from previous governments and will continue going forward. It is important that those programs worked well. It is important that we, as members of Parliament, drive this type of change. We are always looking for ways in which we can improve the situation for those in housing stress, particularly renters.

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