SUNRISE, SEVEN SYDNEY
FRIDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2023
SUBJECTS: Housing; St Ursula’s College; Lilie James
NATALIE BARR: Well, the forecast for the nation’s renters is looking pretty grim. Reserve Bank Governor, Michelle Bullock has told Senate Estimates she thinks rents could rise by a further 10 per cent, and they’re not likely to peak for another six months.
Let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare, and Deputy Opposition Leader, Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you.
JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: Good morning.
BARR: Sussan, almost one in three Aussies rent in this country. Where are they going to find the money to potentially pay an extra 10 per cent?
SUSSAN LEY: I’m really worried about this, Nat, this cost‑of‑living crisis, and renters are right at the centre for it. And it’s not just rents that are going up, it’s the cost of food, the cost of insurance, the cost of power, the cost of gas. It’s really, really tough. And where is the Prime Minister on this issue?
I mean the inflationary figures that have been quoted are really alarming for every Australian, and we do need a proper approach by this Government. I’m just not seeing it. And as you mentioned, renters, front and centre of the cost‑of‑living crisis.
BARR: Jason, a lot of this seems to come down to a clear lack of housing supply putting a strain on the rental market, we just don’t have enough houses in this country and we’re not building enough. What’s the Government doing about it?
CLARE: I think that’s right, Nat. We’ve got to build more houses, we’re not building enough at the moment, and it takes time to build homes. One of the things we’re doing is providing an extra $2 billion to the States to speed up the construction of homes that have already got DA approval to get them built as quickly as possible.
One of the other things that we can do that can have an immediate impact is to provide extra financial support for people who are really struggling at the moment to pay the rent, and that’s why we’ve increased rent assistance by about $2.7 billion. That started last month, in September. So that helps.
We’re seeing inflation coming down now, we’re seeing childcare costs come down by about 13 per cent, electricity bills went up by 4 per cent instead of 18 because of the changes we’re making. But this is an area where we’ve got to keep working at it too, because as you say, it’s very, very tough at the moment for people to rent.
BARR: Yeah. Maybe lean on some of those councils to get the planning laws changed.
LEY: We do, Nat, because no one’s feeling better off.
BARR: Because it’s really hard to get projects through councils still. Now an all‑girls’ school, St Ursula’s College in Sydney, is making headlines after banning same sex couples from attending the Year 12 formal together.
Jason, you are the federal education minister. Where do you stand on this?
CLARE: Nat, I agree with the New South Wales Premier. It’s 2023. I think you should be able to take whoever you want to your Year 12 farewell, and so I just urge the school to have a think about this again. Show a little bit of common sense. I don’t think any of us think that we should be discriminating against children at our schools on the basis of their sexuality or anything else.
BARR: Because this ruling seems ‑ or the statement seems to be coming not just from the school, it seems to be coming from the Sydney Catholic Schools Association, I think, so that represents 150 schools odd, so this is saying, “Basically we want people ‑ them to bring friends or partners of the opposite sex.”
Jason, are you going to have a word with them today; can you?
CLARE: It’s ultimately a matter for the school, but you make the point, this is a rule about who you might bring to your Year 12 farewell. I guess that begs the question, what if you’re dating somebody at the school?
Your Year 12 farewell is pretty important. If you go down memory lane and remember when we were in Year 12, it’s the end of your time at school, it’s a great event, it should be a moment to celebrate with your loved ones, and that’s why I say, I just encourage the school to think again here. Use a bit of common sense, it’s 2023. It’s about time that we say you can bring whoever you love to your Year 12 farewell.
BARR: Just quickly, Sussan.
LEY: I agree. The school’s got this wrong, Nat, and they should have another look at it, and young men and women should be able to take who they want to the school formal.
Separately, Nat, may I quickly say how devastated I am at the murder of Lilie James, the 55th woman killed this year, how heartbreaking this is for everybody, and how we have to stop the violence.
CLARE: I agree.
LEY: We have to get on top of this for the sake of women who are being killed across this country, and I just wanted to say that because it’s a really hurtful thing for many women this morning, and it’s just so important.
CLARE: Well said.
BARR: Yep. Absolutely well said. It has shocked the nation. Thank you very much, we’ll see you next week.