Interview with Leon Compton – ABC Radio Hobart – Thursday 27 June 2019





SUBJECTS: Redress, Tasmanian housing and homelessness crisis

LEON COMPTON:Jason Clare is the Federal Shadow Housing Minister and he joins us in studio this morning Jason Clare good morning to you. And thanks for coming in this morning, we didn’t get you in about this but you heard some of those (REDRESS) comments earlier. How well is the redress scheme actually working? 

JASON CLARE:Not well enough. It’s an important scheme because so many people, thousands and thousands of people just like Pamela and the gentleman you just spoke to were raped or bashed or abused in orphanages across the country and this was hidden from most Australians. Most people didn’t even know this was happening. You know we tell our kids that monsters don’t exist, but monsters do exist and defenceless little kids were atrociously abused and mistreated over decades and decades.

COMPTON:  Just looking at our calls now we could take more calls on this, if today was the day to do that. Are organisations from what you can see dragging their heels getting involved in redress to avoid some of the costs that will come with taking responsibility for that behaviour?

CLARE:Some are better than others, but you know the fact is it’s only through programs like this and through organisations like CLAN, that are shaming organisations into signing up and paying the redress that they’re obliged to do for the misdeeds of their organisations in the past, that we’re ever going to get anywhere. 

COMPTON: On Morning’s Jason Clare is our guest this morning the Shadow Housing Minister. Minister you travel around the state looking at how…

CLARE: Shadow Minister.

COMPTON: Shadow Minister – sorry. Shadow Minister does Tasmania have a housing crisis relative to the problems in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth?

CLARE:Yes it does. It sort of surprises me as somebody who comes from Sydney that Tasmania has got a bigger problem with rental affordability than anywhere else in the country. But talking to organisations like Hobart City Mission and Tas Shelter yesterday, they helped me to understand the problem.

You’ve got more people coming to live in Tasmania, so the population is going up. More tourists coming to see everything that’s so spectacular about Tasmania in the last few years than ever before, and more and more students coming to live here. So a population increase has meant that there’s not enough beds, not enough places for people to stay either temporarily or permanently, and because of all of that rent’s gone up.

COMPTON: Okay, so there’re the problems Shadow Minister, there’s lots of people who can identify them. What are the solutions? What specifically can you do? Will you pressure the Federal Government to forgive Tasmania’s Federal housing debt? Which is one thing that many have focused on.

CLARE:The point that was made by people yesterday – and my job is to listen rather than, to after a few weeks in this job pretend I know all the answers – but people were making the point to me that we need more beds, more crisis accommodation to get people out of the freezing cold. The State Government’s promised extra money to do that, so the quicker that accommodation can be provided to existing crisis accommodation providers the better.

We also need longer-term solutions if we’re going to deal with the crisis of unaffordability. The State Government isn’t building, as far as I can tell here, enough affordable accommodation. In the last term of the Labor Government there was something like 2,000 new affordable homes built here, there’s only been about 300 in the last five years of this Government. That’s something obviously that the State Government could do.

The State Government is lobbying the Federal Government to waive the debt. The impression I get from what the Federal Government’s already said is that it’s unlikely that will happen because they’re worried. 

COMPTON:So what’s your position? And they’re worried about what that would mean on a federal level, which I think from memory Michael Sukkar, the relevant Minister said might cost $2 – $3 billion. Would you do it if you were in Government?

CLARE:Well hang on, the next election is not for three years. Not until March 2022. 

COMPTON:But what’s your policy? Is it to pressure the Federal Government?

CLARE: Well we had an election a couple of weeks ago. We had some policies on housing. We got done. But as you rightly point out the problems haven’t gone away.

So what could be done? Well the State Government could do what other state governments are doing, and that is instead of paying the debt out of their housing budget and therefore having less money to spend on housing, they could put it in consolidated revenue and pay it out of the general budget. If they did that immediately the State Government here would have more money to build houses.

Another approach that they could take is ask the Federal Government for a moratorium, or to freeze the debt repayments for a short period of time so they can catch up. The State Minister said he’s going to talk to the Federal Minister about that. So I’m hoping that we get action sooner rather than later.

COMPTON: Well it would be interesting to put it to the Premier, and he joins us in the studio on the other side of news. Jason Clare thanks for coming in this morning. 

CLARE:Thanks Leon.