Minister Collins doorstop interview in New Norfolk


BRIAN MITCHELL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR LYONS: Good morning, and welcome to New Norfolk where we're opening the latest supported affordable accommodation disability home from the local trust. I'm joined here today by Federal Housing Minister Julie Collins, and chair of the trust Bob Gordon, and I think president Judi Reid may be here as well, and a whole bunch of members of the local New Norfolk community who are just thrilled with this new opening of this new home. This will support people with disabilities, who can live independently at home in a supported way. It is a really wonderful facility that's been supported by federal funds, and Julie will talk about that in just a moment. We've announced, I think, 27 of these across the state. This is the last in that program, and I'm just thrilled. We've got some in Sorell, as well in my electorate, and here in New Norfolk. So this is a really great announcement, providing dignity and respect to people with disabilities so they can live fuller, more independent lives. And Julie, over to you.

JULIE COLLINS, MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Thank you. It's great to be here with local member Brian Mitchell, but also of course with the Supported Affordable Accommodation Trust chair Bob Gordon, and members of that organisation, as well as members of Montagu Services for People Living with Disability. What we have and what we're opening here today is the last of the homes to be opened under the federal government grant that was provided to build facilities, supported accommodation for people living with disability. The design of this is the same as the design of the other homes, where you have three separate independent apartments but with a central part where you have a carer who's able to stay there 24 hours a day, to help care for those people living with disability. The delightful thing about today is, of course, hearing from people who are managing some of these other facilities about how life changing they have been for people living with disability.

The type of innovation and what we're hearing here today is the sort of thing that we want to do more of with our Housing Australia Future Fund. You would be aware our Housing Australia Future Fund is a $10 billion fund, with a guaranteed half a billion dollars each and every year invested in perpetuity into more social and affordable housing across the country. We anticipate from that fund we could build 30,000 homes in the first five years. That legislation was, of course, delayed and voted and blocked by both the Greens, the Liberals and the National Senators in the last sitting week of the federal parliament before the winter break.

What I would say to Greens Senators, Liberal Senators and National Party Senators is it's time to rethink it. There are too many people who are relying on funding from that fund, who need homes today. What we've heard from the community housing providers is that they would estimate between 8000 and 12,000 properties would be being built if that fund had got through and was operational from the first of July. People are relying on that fund getting through the federal parliament to make investments, the types of investments like we're seeing here today. What you see here today is one of 27 premises that have been built. Nine of them have been built from federal government funding. We're talking about a $6 million grant that came from the federal government to start the building of these dwellings. These are investments that have a return. It’s leveraging other investments, it’s leveraging other tiers of government. It's leveraging community housing providers. This is the sort of thing we want to do a lot more of with the Housing Australia Future Fund.

And what you saw from us just a few weeks ago was also our $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator, whereby we are investing right across the country with states and territories, for states and territories to build more additional social housing, public and community housing over the next year and a half. What we want to see is the $50 million that we have invested here in Tasmania going up as quickly as possible, and I look forward to working with the state government to see homes getting on the ground as quickly as they can get them built. We do know, of course, that there is some capacity now in the construction sector and I look forward to seeing some of those homes being delivered as quickly as we can get them built.

JOURNALIST: Just on that, I guess. With the grant running out and the Housing Australia Future Fund being delayed, are you worried that we're going to see less builds of this type going up around the state?

COLLINS: I am concerned that we need the Housing Australia Future Fund through the parliament. Otherwise we could see less of these types of properties being built right across Tasmania, and indeed across the country. We, of course as I said, have given the states and territories an injection immediately, $2 billion nationwide - that's an extra $50 million that we provided the Tasmanian state government to build more community housing for the next two years. We have also given them $34 million last financial year and $38 million this financial year from the National Housing Agreement, whereby the Commonwealth provides the states and territories with money for housing and homelessness services. So we're investing heavily to turn around the housing challenges here in Tasmania and around the country. But we want to do more with the Housing Australia Future Fund, and I call on the senators holding it up to stop doing that and to get on with it.

JOURNALIST: And obviously, these houses are designed for people who are living with disability. I guess what sort of demand is there, and do you think that people living with disability are overlooked when it comes to the housing crisis?

COLLINS: What we know is that there are particularly vulnerable cohorts of people when it comes to the housing challenges. We know that people living with disability, people who are on low incomes, women and children fleeing family violence, Indigenous Australians are all more vulnerable in terms of the numbers that are appearing on our public housing waiting lists. What we need to do is we need to build more homes of every type, including disability housing. We need to build homes of every type, right across the board.

JOURNALIST: And just to spell it out one more time, I guess - the Housing Australia Future Fund, will that allow you to supply more money to this trust?

COLLINS: It would allow us to provide funding directly to community housing providers and or to state governments to actually get more homes on the ground more quickly. What we're talking about with the Housing Australia Future Fund is half a billion dollars guaranteed each and every year, on top of everything else we're doing. The Housing Australia Future Fund is not the only thing we're doing, but it is critical in trying to leverage other investments like we're seeing here today.