Private Members Business – Housing Affordability
Mr PITT: It’s a great pleasure for me to rise in support of my good friend and colleague, the assistant minister, Minister Howarth. I note the comments from the member for Blaxland about advice from his father. I would certainly like to relay some of my own. My father was a fairly quiet gentleman and still is. When he gave advice, it was always not that direct. As a kid, and as I grew up, every time I would ask him a question about something serious, like purchasing a property or a car or something else, he might say something like, ‘You may be right.’ As I got older I discovered that that meant, ‘You were wrong—completely wrong—and in fact you should never have done that and it was the wrong thing to do.’ It took a long time for me to establish exactly what that advice meant, but I am still very pleased that I was able to get it, because I know there are lots of people out there who don’t have that opportunity.
When we talk about housing and affordability, we should look at the key drivers, particularly within the economy. One of the best things we can do as a government is ensure that the economy continues to maintain its strength—that there are opportunities for jobs, opportunities for all individuals to have a job and be employed and pay their own way. Whilst this private member’s motion is about the elements in Tasmania—I will get to the motion in a moment—in my own electorate housing is much cheaper than it is in other places. It’s genuinely is. You can buy a good house for under $300,000. You can live near the beach. There are great schools and great opportunities. Our biggest problem is jobs.
However, there is good news on the horizon. We have had a change. There is a positive trend right now. In fact, in the last 12 months the unemployment rate for the Wide Bay statistical region has dropped from 9.6 per cent a year ago to 7.3 per cent. I think anyone in this place would consider that that is a move in the right direction. Our youth unemployment has dropped from 28 per cent to around 18 per cent. That is a significant and substantial change, and I think that is because of a combination of reasons. The first one is that we are investing locally in job-driving parts of the economy. We have substantial and significant infrastructure investments right across the board. This government has committed $100 billion over the next 10 years.
When we look at that, what does that mean, and why does it have an effect on this PMB? Well, the reality is straightforward: every single individual who is there and employed has the opportunity to purchase their own house. If those houses are built, it will provide more rental opportunities for those who are looking for those rental opportunities locally.
Once again, in one of my former roles I actually used to have not a large cane farm but a reasonable-sized cane far, along with the rest of my family, and I clearly remember a gentleman and his dog who used to sleep rough in his car at the end of my road. Every morning I got into the habit of getting up, going out the front, looking to see if the gentleman was up and giving him a wave to make sure he was okay. He’d wave back, and we’d move on. As a little bit of an aside in the time I’ve got left, I did take up that opportunity for a different car at one stage, and unfortunately I found a young couple in an amorous embrace which I think I shouldn’t have interrupted!
Let’s go back to the elements of the PMB. Locally there is a very, very strong provision of regional housing from an organisation called Regional Housing Limited. I acknowledge the work that they are doing. They have more than 200 local houses that they provide for those people who find themselves in difficult circumstances. One of the reasons I am mentioning them is I want to support the fact that they were very supportive of the cashless debit card rollout. I know there are those opposite who speak frankly against it. They are entitled to their view, but I want to give one example of an individual’s circumstances as justification for this rollout.
Regional Housing Limited have a client, who will remain unnamed. They have a disability, and Regional Housing Limited have struggled to keep them in housing for 10 years. The reason for it is very straightforward: every second Thursday someone would come down, wake that individual up early in the morning, take them down to the teller machine, make them take their money out of the teller machine and steal it. As a result, that individual couldn’t pay their rent. Now the cashless debit card ensures that that will never happen again and that Regional Housing Limited will be able to keep that individual in housing for the remainder of their time, and I think that is a very, very positive change.
In Tasmania we know the Hodgman Liberal government announced, in July 2019, that they have set four-year targets to assist an additional 1,600 households with their housing needs. That includes a supply of 941 affordable land lots and homes, 372 of which would have been new social housing dwellings. These targets, having been met or exceeded, have assisted a total of 1,605 individual households into safe, secure accommodation that meets their needs; delivered a total of 985 affordable lots and homes; and significantly boosted supply of social housing, with 453 new dwellings being delivered. I think that is a very positive story. It is a positive message for the people of Tasmania. I congratulate the Hodgman Liberal government, and I congratulate, of course, the assistant minister, Mr Howarth, on the work that he is doing.