08 May 2013
Mr ALEX GREENWICH: My question is directed to the Minister for Family and Community Services, and Minister for Women. Will the Minister update the House on the Government's action to improve safety for Surry Hills public housing tenants, including when the renumbering of the Northcott estate will be complete?
Ms PRU GOWARD: I thank the member for his question and for his commitment to fixing a very frustrating numbering problem for the residents of Northcott—a numbering problem that was ignored by State Labor, whose numbering problems only ever related to themselves: the party of pathological narcissism.
As members may be aware, the numbering system for Northcott Estate, devised when it was constructed in 1960, has been the subject of concerns for years. I am pleased to confirm the member for Sydney and the House that a new improved numbering system has been developed with input from the Surry Hills Safety Working Party, which included tenants, local police and Housing NSW, and the proposed solutions have been discussed and endorsed by tenant meetings and also with Australia Post and the Ambulance Service.
The contract will soon be awarded to fix the problem. It is a very common-sense solution to improving the numbering system for a very large housing estate and improving the tenants' lives. It is such a simple matter, but one which, again, was too much for the former Government. Not only do we take the safety and interests of our tenants seriously, we also take seriously the need to fix the broken system that Labor bequeathed to us after 16 years of mismanagement, perpetuated by a revolving door of failed housing Ministers. We were bequeathed 55,000 people on the waiting list and a maintenance backlog of more than $300 million. That was Labor's legacy to the people of New South Wales, in addition to the issues faced by the residents of Northcott Estate.
We have done a number of other things to improve outcomes for residents: we now have a transparent waiting list so that people know when a house is available and how long it will be before a house becomes available in a person's area; and no longer will people walk into their local housing office and be informed that they cannot be told how long they have to wait for accommodation—again, a simple change but a very important one. The recent amnesty for unauthorised occupants has given us 6,000 additional occupants in public housing who will now pay their fair share of rent, which all goes to the $300 million backlog and to addressing the waiting list faced by people in New South Wales.
Because of his particular concerns about homelessness the member for Sydney will be interested to know that today we have signed another 12-month extension to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. We expect those opposite to now join us in lobbying the Federal Government. In the paltry 12-month extension the Federal Government will give the State $29 million and we will contribute $36 million. The last time I checked, partnerships meant a 50:50 contribution and partnerships against homelessness is a vitally important way to improve outcomes for people who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness.
It is timely with the Federal budget being brought down next week that members opposite, if they are serious about assisting with homelessness, call on the Federal Labor Government to extend the national partnership from 12 months to the full four years; because there is no way we can address this problem by extending services for a miserable 12 months. The Government is working better and smarter to improve services and lives for the most vulnerable people of this State. We will continue to progress sensible reforms to the social housing system, and if that means getting our numbers right at Northcott, we will.