Doorstop Interview – Gillieston Heights – Friday 5 November 2021

SUBJECT: Housing crisis in the Hunter.

I’m here today at Gillieston Heights and I’m absolutely rapped to welcome Jason Clare. It’s so good to have you. Jason is the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, and here in the Hunter, Jason, we have just experienced this explosion. In the lasts 10 years it’s been crazy but in the last two years since Covid it’s like everyone wants to move from Sydney. I know you’re from Sydney and we love Sydney, but everyone has their eyes on the Hunter and particularly around this part of the Hunter in Maitland. I think we’ve got now between seven and nine people a day moving into this region. House prices have increased – it’s 29 per cent across the Hunter, so nearly 30 per cent more to buy a house. And then, for a rental, it’s just crazy. The big thing is, it’s not even whether or not you can afford it, it’s actually just getting something that’s not sold or that’s available to rent. So, I would suggest health and housing are the things that are on people’s minds really significantly at the moment. 

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: The last 12 months to 18 months have just reminded us how important Medicare is, how important our health system is, but the biggest cost in all of our lives is either paying the mortgage or paying the rent. Mortgages are going up and the cost of rent is going up and there aren’t many parts of the country where this is a bigger challenge than the Hunter. I totally understand why people want to move from Sydney to the Hunter, this is paradise, but one of the impacts of so many people moving so quickly is that prices are through the roof here now. They’re going up more here than they are on average right across the country and rents are through the roof as well. The statistics that came out just in the last few days tell us that house prices across Australia have gone up by 20 per cent in the last year, but they’ve gone up by almost 30 per cent here in the Hunter. So, 50 per cent more than the national average. And rents have gone up by a massive amount as well. In Sydney, rents have gone up in the last 12 months by 5 per cent but in parts of the Hunter, rents have gone up by 15 per cent or 20 per cent or more. All of that means if you own a home here at the moment that’s fantastic – the value of your home’s gone up. But if you’re a young person or if you’ve got kids that are looking to buy a home it’s just getting harder and harder to be able to buy a place where you grew up here in the Hunter. If you’re renting, it means that more and more of your money goes to paying the rent rather than saving for a deposit or giving money to the kids for school excursions, now that school has started again, or just putting food on the table. I heard a story the other day not far from here on the Central Coast where two police officers moved to the Central Coast and were looking for a place to rent for $800 a week and they couldn’t find one. If you’ve got two police officers who can’t find an affordable place to rent, what hope do people on lower and very modest incomes have, whether it’s in Sydney, the Central Coast, or the Hunter or anywhere else in the country. This Government has been in power now for almost a decade and things are getting worse not better. It’s harder to buy than ever before, it’s harder to rent today than ever before, and there are more homeless Aussies today than ever before – more people either sleeping on the street or having to get the help of refuges around the country. We can do better than that. But it’s going to take an Albanese Labor Government to focus on housing, to show a bit of leadership from Canberra and work with state governments, local governments, and local communities to make it easier for Aussies to buy a home and make it easier for them to rent and to reduce the number of Aussies who just don’t have a roof over their head at all today.

SWANSON: Thank you Jason. Thank you for coming up to Maitland, to Gillieston Heights, particularly where we’ve seen this massive housing boom. I just want local people to be able to afford to firstly be able to rent – to be able to get a rental – or find their own place. All the kids of my friends who are just starting out their lives, I want them to be able to afford something in our region where their parents have grown up and their grandparents are, and they love it, and they want to stay here. And that is just so important to me as a Labor Member. We welcome people coming, and we want people to be able to get a fair crack at having a house. That’s what we all want.

CLARE: Before we started talking here today, we met a young mum and a little boy called Charlie, and that young mum and her partner bought a house here a couple of years ago. She said to us, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to buy it today with the prices as they are right now. This used to be a paddock.

SWANSON: It did, it was farmland. I can remember as a kid driving from Kurri to Maitland, and you’d look out to Gillieston Heights and there was one house and a farm shed. Now, there are thousands of roofs. It is just incredible how much it has grown.

CLARE: The good news is there are lots of young families coming here to live in a great part of Australia but it’s getting harder and harder to do that. And when wages are flat and house prices are like that, it means we hear more stories like the story we just heard from that young woman, who tell us, if we hadn’t bought a couple of years ago, we wouldn’t be here now. We need to do more to make it easier for more young families like the one we just met to be able to buy a home here and raise a family here in the Hunter Region.

SWANSON: Right across the country we have seen the regions booming, and that’s a good thing, but it’s really tough if you’ve got to try to get into that market. Thank you for coming up Jason. I really appreciate it. We’re going to go over to Carrie’s Place now to talk about homelessness, which is also something that is really difficult and rising here in the Hunter. No one wants people sleeping in their cars. That’s something else an Albanese Government is going to focus on.


ARLEY BLACK (CLARE) 02 9790 2466