Jenny Leong questions the Premier in Parliament about the sale of public housing

Jenny Leong questions the Premier in Parliament about the sale of public housing, on 11 May 2023:


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (12:02): My question is directed to the Premier. Given the Premier's very welcome announcement of an immediate freeze on public housing sales, will he now give certainty and housing security to the public housing tenants in Waterloo south and Explorer Street in Eveleigh by scrapping the former Liberal-Nationals Government's plans to privatise and redevelop their homes through State-led rezoning?

Mr CHRIS MINNS (Kogarah—Premier) (12:02): I thank the member for Newtown for her question. Over the past 12 years, $90 billion worth of government assets were sold off. Perhaps the most egregious is the sale of government property, particularly public housing. Something like $3.5 billion worth of property administered by the State of New South Wales was privatised by the previous Government, always with the promise of increased supply as a result of the sale. But it never delivered. We have 12 years worth of history of this bogus concept of privatisation to look back on. We saw the growth in housing roles, and we saw public housing deteriorate as a result. Former Minister Pru Goward—I cannot remember what electorate she represented—

Mr Jihad Dib: Goulburn.

Mr CHRIS MINNS: Goulburn. She constantly said, "We need to privatise as many public assets as we can, particularly government land. As a result, we will see a net increase in the amount of public housing." But it never materialised. This Government is committed to 30 per cent of homes that are built on government land being social and affordable housing. That is important context. A growing city like Sydney cannot meet the challenges of the skills shortage, inbound immigration or the housing crisis without those specific targets. I know the planning Minister is committed to doing that.

In relation to Waterloo south, the planning controls will have a minimum provision of 34 per cent social and affordable housing. It will have other requirements, like public benefits for improved public realm, more open space and a community centre. The Government is exploring opportunities to increase the proportion of social, affordable and key worker rental housing for the Waterloo south site. I think every member in this place who has spoken to an essential worker at any point in the past four years—whether it be a police officer, a teacher, a nurse or a firefighter—will say that their wages will not sustain housing near where their jobs are.

We have to look at housing in a different way, ensuring that when we do look at urban renewal, and when there is development on government land, that we ensure affordable and social housing is part of the mix. It was a crucial and missed opportunity from successive planning and housing Ministers in the previous Government. Notwithstanding that some of them had good intentions when they approached their portfolio, the delivery was lax and, at the end of the day, we are where we are—in an unmitigated housing crisis. The rezoning of Waterloo south is complete. It will take time to build, but it will transform 749 old social dwellings into a mixed community with over 3,000 homes. We need to get the balance right.

Ms JENNY LEONG: Mr Speaker—

Mr CHRIS MINNS: That balance includes urban consolidation that allows young people, in particular, to have a place to live and raise a family, and the opportunity to grow their professional life in this city.

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