Jenny Leong's motion on Housing as a Human Right passes the lower house

The NSW Lower House has unanimously supported a motion from Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown calling on the Government to treat housing as a Human Right, not as an avenue for profit.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (13:58): In reply: I am pleased that this motion in support of housing as a human right will pass through the New South Wales Legislative Assembly. I thank the members for Parramatta, Newcastle, Drummoyne, Riverstone, and Sydney for their contributions. As the only female voice in this debate, I acknowledge that homelessness is increasingly an issue for older women. Our mothers and grandmothers have worked to care for families over many years and now do not have the superannuation and housing security that they need. Homelessness is a fundamental priority of this Parliament.

It is unacceptable to The Greens that prioritising housing profits and housing developments is more important than solving the housing crisis in this State. Today members in this Chamber have shown support for ensuring that housing is a fundamental human right—as are health care and education. It is unacceptable that people do not have a safe and secure place to call home. It is not okay that 60,000 people are on the public housing waiting list. It is not okay that there has been a 37 per cent increase in the number of homeless people in New South Wales, yet we continue business as usual. The New South Wales Ombudsman's report titled "More than shelter—addressing legal and policy gaps in supporting homeless children", indicates that in 2016-17  just over 5,000 children and young people aged between 12 and 18 years presented on their own to a homelessness service to seek support or a place to stay, and that more than one-third of them were in the younger age bracket.

It is completely unacceptable that young people, older women and many others in our community are suffering because our housing crisis is not being taken seriously. But there is also a good news story. The stories recounted by the member for Sydney were truly horrific but we know that there are genuine solutions to solve this crisis right now. The University of Sydney, under the leadership of Professor Nicole Gurran, has completed a study into the mechanisms used in this country to increase the supply of affordable housing. So we know that there are mechanisms that this Parliament can put in place to solve this crisis and put an end to homelessness in New South Wales. These things are possible. For example, the South Australian and Western Australian governments have put mechanisms in place to address the housing affordability crisis in those States. I repeat: One of the simplest things this Government can do—and it would cost it nothing—is to introduce legislation that puts an end to no-grounds evictions. That would provide security and safety for many people who are currently living in the insecure private rental market.

In conclusion, I acknowledge the outstanding work of a number of organisations with which The Greens work closely: Homelessness NSW, Shelter NSW, Tenants' Union of NSW, Sydney Alliance, REDWatch and other local resident action groups, Inner Sydney Voice, Better Planning Network Inc, Newtown Neighbourhood Centre that is doing amazing innovative work in the homelessness area, Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre and the 90  organisations in the Make Renting Fair Coalition. I am committed to keeping housing on the agenda both in this Parliament and the community until the housing crisis in this State is addressed and everybody has a place to sleep at night.

TEMPORARY SPEAKER (Mr Adam Crouch): The question is that the motion be agreed to.

Motion agreed to.

Sign up for updates