Tasmania – Housing

Mr CLARE (Blaxland) (10:14): We’ve got a housing crisis in Australia at the moment; that’s the truth of it. It’s harder to buy a house today than ever before. It’s also harder to rent a place than ever before. One of the parts of the country where this is most severe is Tasmania. Hobart is the rental stress capital of the country. According to the latest Rental Affordability Index, it’s harder to rent in Hobart than anywhere else in Australia, and the rest of Tasmania is not much better off. In Launceston, rents have shot up by more than 40 per cent in the last few years, and it’s also getting harder to buy a home in Tasmania. In the last 12 months house prices in regional Tasmania have shot up by about 18 per cent. Just to put it in perspective, that’s almost twice as much as house prices have rocketed up in Sydney, our hometown. That’s why anything the government does to make it easier for people to buy a home has got to work in Tasmania.

Now, here’s the thing: in the budget the government announced a scheme to help single parents buy a home. It’s a pretty small scheme—it’ll help about 2½ thousand single-parent families a year. But we support it; it’ll help. There’s a problem with it though. In Launceston there are about 5,000 single-parent families, and if they want to access the scheme they have to buy a home for less than $300,000. How many three-bedroom homes do you think there are for sale under $300,000 in Launceston at the moment for a single parent with two kids? The answer is three, and here’s one of them: this place that’s for sale at the moment in Launceston is advertised as ‘renovate or detonate’. This is a place that, to be honest, you can’t move into right now. It doesn’t even have walls. And that’s the flaw in this scheme.

I raised this issue in the House of Representatives last week, and the member for Bowman’s response in the debate was: if you can’t find a place in Launceston, then just get in the car and drive until you find someplace. Really? The solution to this is simple. It’s not moving away from your family or your job; it’s raising the price cap on this scheme. That’s why, in estimates last night, we asked Minister Hume: will you raise the price cap on this scheme for Launceston? And she refused. This is the marginal seat of Bass, one of the most marginal seats in the country, and we’ve got the government in here refusing to fix this policy to make it work there. Obviously, this government doesn’t think that Launceston and single parents who live in Launceston are that important.