06 August 2015
(Questions Without Notice, 5 August 2015, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
I direct my question to the Minister for Social Housing. Following the Minister's meeting and site visit with Millers Point residents, will he now agree to the proposal to exclude some purpose-built, low-value properties from the sales program so that tenants who are aged, frail and have complex needs can stay?
Response from Minister for Social Housing:
I thank the member for Sydney for his question and his ongoing interest in this challenging issue for all of us. I also thank the member for Sydney and Clover Moore for facilitating a further meeting. In my first 12 weeks or so of being the responsible Minister I have visited Millers Point on a number of occasions. I very much appreciated the opportunity of meeting with the member for Sydney, Clover Moore, Flo—I will not say her surname—Barney, John and a few of the others for scones and a bit of a chat. But I turn now to what the Premier was saying earlier. This Government, contrary to the rump on the other side, genuinely cares and has compassion for and is interested in the community. Those opposite can carry, on but they really did not do very much in 16 years for people in need of support. Those opposite talked the talk, they talked the politics but they did not deliver.
Social housing is a huge issue. A few of the rump of the former Labor Government are still here. Labor allowed public housing to eat itself over the 16 years it was in office. Every year roughly 1,000 homes were lost from social housing. We have not discussed this, but I remind the member for Sydney that between 2008 and 2011—before the member came into this place—that Labor acknowledged it had a problem: A backlog of 60,000 people were on the waiting list. What did it do? Labor actually started what we have continued. This is not a new concept. We hear howling and yowling from those opposite—I suggest they look that up in the dictionary if they do not know what it means.
From 2008 to 2011 Labor sold 28 leaseholds and raised about $38 million. It did not use the money very effectively, but it actually did it. Since coming to government we have sold 23 properties and raised $50 million. The reasonable ambition—and it is certainly possible—is to raise $500 million and build around 1,500 new social houses. It is tough on some of the tenants. Flo, whom I mentioned earlier, has been there for more than 70 years. She and her husband, Teddy, were married for 61 years. She gave me the history of her involvement in the area. As the Minister responsible, I understand that it is a challenge. It is a huge task...
...he short answer is that the Government is trying to strike the right balance. Last week I was at Lurnea. Members would know that much of the money has gone into places like Casula, Lurnea, Warilla, Chester Hill and Yagoona.
The Government anticipates that it will be able to build about 1,500 houses. I met with tenants. I understand that many of them have been there for a long while, but the bottom line is that we must achieve economic outcomes. If we sell each of the properties, we will achieve five new and very good properties for people who have been on the public housing waiting list for years. The Government is committed to trying to build thousands more new homes—not what Labor did. As Minister for Social Housing I am listening and I am meeting with tenants. I understand the issues for many of those people and I understand the proposal that has been put. The community in Millers Point is saying, "Why not sell the heritage houses? We will move out of them and some of us may be able to move into houses that do not have the same high heritage value." I am looking at all of that. The Premier has made the point that care and compassion are hallmarks of this Government, but economic good sense has to prevail. The Opposition should not say a thing, because it did absolutely nothing while it was in government.
Read complete Hansard record HERE.