WEDNESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Housing crisis in Gilmore; Labor’s Housing Australia Future Fund; Morrison Government’s failure to invest in social and affordable housing.
STOLZY, HOST: An independent report with recommendations for how the planning system can address housing supply, and affordability in regional communities has been released by the New South Wales government. In town today, we have our Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare, and he’s on the line at the moment. Good morning, Jason, welcome to the show, mate.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Great to be here.
STOLZY: This is a situation, a problem, that, look if you’re lucky enough to own your own home, great, well done. You’ve seen prices rise astronomically for the last little while. But if you’re not and you’re trying to get into it, it’s not so much mate. There’s a few few issues to work through.
CLARE: Big time. House prices have jumped 20 per cent across the country in the last year, but they’ve jumped by about 35 per cent on the South Coast. So, if you own a place, then that’s terrific. But if you’re looking to buy, if you’re a young person in particular and you’re trying to buy a first home, it’s just getting harder and harder and that means that more young people growing up on the South Coast are going to find it really difficult to buy a place where they grew up.
STOLZY: Up until recently, you would have a situation where some people might just, you know, grew out with mum, and they’re saving some, and next thing you know, they’ve gone to buy and realise that they love the area as well. But they can’t actually buy in their own home, the place where they live.
CLARE: Twenty years ago, the average home was worth four times the average income. Now it’s about double that. Even worse than that on the South Coast. In the last year, you’ve had places like Gerringong jump by about 49 per cent, Moruya up by 27 per cent, Tuross Head up by 33 per cent, Kiama up by 26 per cent, Berry up by 29 per cent. These are massive jumps and if you’ve spent the last year or so saving for a deposit, you just see that wiped away by these big jumps. And it’s not just that, mate, because rents are through the roof as well. We’ve seen rents in Sydney jump by about five per cent in the last year but on the South Coast have jumped by three or four times that. That means more money you’re paying to the landlord and less money to save for a deposit or to put food on the table for the kids.
STOLZY: So we’ve had situations here where families can’t pay because their rent’s gone up astronomically and they’re out on their ass and because they can’t pay the actual rent and the landlords are able to put it up. Is there something on the line of say rent assistant that needs to change? I mean, will you commit to changing or making a change to it?
CLARE: What you’re seeing is people going to charities in places like Nowra where I’m visiting today that have never visited a charity before asking for food vouchers or help to pay electricity bills. More people that are homeless than ever before. The biggest group of homeless Aussies in Australia are women and kids fleeing domestic violence, and refuges are chock-a-block at the moment. That’s one of the side effects of Covid, we’ve seen this jump in domestic violence and last year, 10,000 mums and kids were turned away from refuges because they were full, which means mum and the kids end up sleeping in the car or going back to where the violence happened. Now what we’ve said, Stolzy, that we’d do is if we win the next election, we’ll set up a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund to build 30,000 affordable and social housing homes right across the country. Four thousand of them would be for women and kids fleeing domestic violence, permanent homes that would help to deal with this challenge. We’ve got refuges that are full to overflowing where people are staying there for six months or more because there isn’t the long term housing, but it would also help people who are stuck in the private rental market and are having problems paying their rent because it’s just through the roof.
STOLZY: Yeah. Something I always asked myself, you know, are organisations who are helping the homeless given enough security and stability in their funding so that would be a big leap forward.
CLARE: Yeah, people who work in this sector are doing God’s work. They’re helping people who are in real strife and often people who have never asked for their help before. And they need more help now than ever. One of the really sad things in the last 12 months has been that as people lost their jobs, and as rents have gone up, the state government promised us that there’d be a rental support scheme to help people to pay their rent, that gap between the rental increases and their wages being lost. They set up a $200 million scheme and announced it in July when the second lockdown happened. We found out last week that they’ve only allocated $11 million of that and you can’t tell me that there aren’t people who needed that money to pay the rent over the course of the last few months. But instead what’s happened is people have had to knock on the door of charities because they haven’t been able to get access to that fund.
STOLZY: Yeah well, so what do you make of this report that’s just come out, Jason?
CLARE: They make two obvious points: you need to have more land available for housing, governments have got to do a better job of putting the infrastructure in place, whether it’s the sewerage or the electricity, the kerb and guttering, or getting the planning approvals right so that you can build faster. It also says you got to build more affordable housing and I agree with that. The problem is the federal government says it’s not their job to do that.
STOLZY: How can they come into it? Because it’s normally your state and your local governments who don’t like dealing with it so what can the federal government do?
CLARE: You are only going to fix this, you’re only going to make a big dent in this, at least, if the federal government gets involved, if you see a bit of leadership from Canberra. Their view, the Morrison Government’s view at least, is that this is not their job. But that’s rubbish. You know that the federal government has been involved in housing for at least as long as 70 years. Remember what Curtin and Chifley did during World War Two and the reconstruction after the war, all that housing construction? That’s the federal government getting involved in building housing and putting a roof over the head of veterans and people who need a good start in life. The federal government could do that again today and that’s why we said we’d set up this $10 billion Future Fund. A bit of leadership from Canberra. Believe it or not, mate, the Federal Housing Minister doesn’t even meet with the State Housing Ministers across the country to work out how to increase supply and how to build more housing at the moment. That’s the sort of thing that should be happening right now.
STOLZY: Jason, look, it is an ongoing problem. It is a big problem here in the Shoalhaven. We’ve been talking about it a lot and I really appreciate you coming on the show this morning. Watch this space and stay in touch as well because it is hot on the heels. I mean, when we’ve got families living in cars and people living in caves in the Shoalhaven, it’s just bloody not good enough, mate. So look, thanks for coming on the show this morning. It’s very much appreciated.
CLARE: Thanks, mate. Yeah, this is Australia. People shouldn’t have to be sleeping in cars, or living in caves or sleeping on the street. Take us back to Sydney for a minute; one in 10 people sleeping on the streets in Sydney tonight will be a veteran. Somebody that we put a uniform on, train, send overseas and despite everything we say on ANZAC Day, this government has forgotten. We can do a lot better than that.
STOLZY: Jason Clare, thank you so much.
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