Radio Interview with Abby Hopkins – 949 Power FM Illawarra – Wednesday 10 November 2021


SUBJECTS: Housing crisis in Gilmore; Labor’s Housing Australia Future Fund. 

ABBY HOPKINS, HOST: Some crazy stats coming out this morning and look, we all know I’ve moved out of home for the first time this year. So it’s the first time I have hit the housing market and yes, I am renting because it is absolutely way out of my price range to purchase a house. The stats we’re seeing coming out this morning just proves that. On the phone I’ve got with me MP Jason Clare, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness. He is coming into Nowra today to chat about housing costs. How are you this morning, Jason?

JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: I’m really good. Abby. Thanks for having me on.

HOPKINS: No, thanks for coming on. We seen some crazy stats come out this morning with housing costs absolutely skyrocketed in the last 12 months. Rent in Sydney has increased 5.5 per cent the last 12 months, and in some parts of Gilmore, it has jumped by three or four times that.

CLARE: Yes, it’s through the roof. It’s getting harder to buy a house or to rent a place right across the country. But it’s harder on the South Coast than I think almost anywhere else in the country. House prices have jumped by 35 per cent on the South Coast just in the last year. As you say, rents have jumped by three or four times the amount they have in Sydney. Here’s just two examples; Berry, rents are up by 20 per cent and in Bomaderry they’re up by 18 per cent. So, that means more money going to the landlord and less money that you can save for a deposit or to pay for food or pay for going out or pay for looking after the kids.

HOPKINS: Yeah, and I mean, we do live in a beautiful part of the world I can see that this area is becoming more popular. But the prices, they’re just way too ridiculous. It’s just nearly impossible for anyone to purchase a home and especially the first home buyers.

CLARE: The real risk is that it means that young people growing up here on the South Coast can’t afford to buy a house where they grew up. If you already own, you’d be really happy the price of the house has gone up but you’d be worried about your kids. This is paradise down here. You want the kids to be able to raise their family where you raised your family. But it’s getting it’s getting harder and harder. There used to be a time where Sydney was the place that was unaffordable and the regions were affordable. But now everything is getting harder and harder unless you’ve got the help of mum and dad to help you get started.

HOPKINS: That is very true. We are seeing all the Sydney-siders trickle out of Sydney. But also Sydney prices going up which is only proves that our region’s going to go up as well. So what is the knock on effect from these house prices are being so large?

CLARE: I guess there’s two. When house prices go up, rents follow as well. So rents go up, and it makes it harder to even save for a deposit. But the other flow on effect is that you have more people struggling to pay their rent that are knocking on the doors of charities for the first time. Also more people who are homeless, who are sleeping on friend’s couches, who don’t have a permanent roof over their head. So homeless organisations on the South Coast are busier than ever. One of the other side effects of COVID has been the big increase in domestic violence and so you’ve got more women and kids fleeing homes and getting turned away from services because they’re already full, so it cascades along. It’s harder to buy, but it’s also harder to rent and there are more homeless Australians today.

HOPKINS: It’s really sad news. So, what can we do to get these prices down?

CLARE: There’s no easy fix. I’m not going to do a Scott Morrison and just lie to you. But I do think there is something that the federal government can practically do here. They can help to build more housing, in particular, more affordable housing. We’ve said if we win the next federal election, and part of the reason I’m coming down is Fiona Phillips, the great local MP, asked me to come down and look at the situation, we’ve said if we win the election, we’ll set up a Housing Australia Future Fund. That’s a $10 billion fund to build 30,000, affordable and social housing homes right across the country for people on low and modest incomes. Fiona made the point to me when we’re in Parliament recently, she said this is the sort of fund that’s needed on the South Coast because there’s lots of people who are homeless, there are lots of people who are struggling to pay rent on the general market rent and there are lots of people who are struggling to buy a home. This is a fund that could do a lot of good here on the South Coast.

HOPKINS: Yeah, definitely. And, you know, I’m one of those ones. I honestly can’t see myself buying a home anytime in the near future. And even my sister, she’s got a friend who’s unfortunately her mom has passed away and she’s used that money to purchase a home because otherwise you know, without that we’re never going to be able to get in to it.

CLARE: I think that’s right, just to make that point, Abbey, again. If you’re fortunate enough to have a mum and dad who’ve got a house, and they can use that as a guarantee, then you can get a step up. What the statistics are showing us is that about 40 years ago, young people aged 25 to 35, who were on low and modest incomes, about 60 per cent of those young Australians owned the home. Now it’s about 25 per cent. More and more young people on modest incomes are being locked out of the housing market and forced to rent for the rest of their life. And that becomes a really big problem when you’re still renting when you retire.

HOPKINS: Yeah, definitely. I’ve got a friend whose parents have five kids, all adult kids, and yeah, they’re still renting with all those kids under that household because it is just nearly impossible, myself included. I am 26. I’ve only just moved out of home this year, because purely because of the job. If I could still be at home saving all the dollars I could, I would. It’s very sad. So, you will be in town today holding a press conference to discuss the housing crisis and you’ll also be meeting some very important locals.

CLARE: I’ll get a chance to talk to some of the people in Nowra who are helping women and kids fleeing domestic violence, and some of the people who are providing those homelessness services. Last year, just think about this for a second, last year 10,000 mums and kids fleeing domestic violence, often in the middle of the night, bundling the kids up into a car, 10,000 were turned away from refuges because they were full. And what that means is that mum and the kids end up sleeping in the car that night, and the night after that, or they go back home to where the violence took place. One of the things that this fund will do that I mentioned a moment ago, is build transitional and permanent homes for women and kids fleeing domestic violence for thousands of them. If we win the election, it would be the biggest investment in providing safe and secure housing for women and kids fleeing domestic violence ever in the history of this country, and I want to talk to the people on the ground in Nowra. This is my third or fourth visit to talk to them about this. It’s their experience and what they’re telling me is happening here in Nowra that helped us to put that policy together.

HOPKINS: This is a very important topic and we’re very glad to have you coming to Nowra today to talk about it. So, not only are the house house prices have skyrocketed, but that just that knock on effect from everything. It’s just absolutely devastating so something definitely needs to be done. MP Jason Clare, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Thank you so much for your time this morning. Can people come down and meet you at the homelessness hub today?

CLARE: Yeah, I’m sure they can. Maybe the best thing to do is if people are listening to us today and want to say g’day, give my office a call and you will find the number on the internet and they’ll put you in touch with where I am in Nowra today.

HOPKINS: You beauty. Thanks so much, Jason.