Jenny Leong MP condemns NSW Housing Strategy

Greens Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP has raised her serious concerns about the NSW Housing Strategy.



Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (17:43): The New South Wales Liberal‑Nationals Government Housing Strategy claims to set a strategic vision for housing over the next 20 years and identify action for the New South Wales Government to achieve that. What is that strategic vision? It seems it is all about relinquishing responsibility and opening up public lands and property for bidding so the private sector can jump in with its vision for maximizing its profits. If the housing and homelessness stress faced by so many was not so outrageous, it would be laughable and funny that the top‑line strategy in the plan is to establish a register of New South Wales Government land, assessing its suitability for housing outcomes. That would allow stakeholders to identify opportunities and submit proposals for the use of New South Wales Government‑owned land for housing in both metropolitan and regional New South Wales areas. That is right, at the heart of the Liberal-Nationals Government's strategic vision for housing is a database to make the large-scale privatisation of public land and property easier. It is a developer's dream. The red carpet has been laid out as a database to identify buildings or land which are up for grabs now where the public almost certainly will be the biggest loser. This is happening already in a targeted way through Land and Housing Corporation's [LAHC] euphemistically titled Communities Plus program, which operates to generate funding for social housing by selling off nearly three-quarters of every redevelopment of public housing that LAHC enters into. As we all know, because there is no budget line item for developing public housing in New South Wales, any project has to be cost neutral. What a disgraceful state of affairs!

Residents in public housing, whether it be in Waterloo or Eveleigh in the electorate of Newtown, are facing years and years of disruption, uncertainty and a massive privatisation if the Government is allowed to get away with this. There will be negligible increases in public or affordable housing with LAHC's grand redevelopment vision for the hugely significant sites. The sites the Government is going to privatise we say must be 100 per cent maintained as public and affordable housing, with at least 10 per cent Aboriginal housing. New South Wales lags behind every State in providing livable and affordable social housing. Look at the Victorian Government's recent all-time record investment of $5.4 billion over four years, delivering 12,000 additional social and affordable housing dwellings. But here in New South Wales, with this Government of private marketeers who are locked into a vision of no government, or, should I say, government for the wealthy and corporate interests, the State has been well and truly captured by vested interests.

There is an almost palpable contempt for anything that is considered public by this Government—whether that be public space, public education, public health care or public housing. Minister Pavey is failing in her duties as a Minister. She will not stand up for this, or maybe she does not have the power within Cabinet to call for the funding that she knows is urgently needed to solve this crisis. The Minister is so far removed from the reality faced by people doing it tough as a result of the housing crisis that we face that she is literally outsourcing her own responsibility by just proposing the private sector buy up land and take it over. Establishing a housing evidence centre is another part of the strategy, to make it easier for users inside and outside of government to access key housing data. When one reads the plan it sounds like something out of the television seriesUtopia. Surely the Government spruiking for some "user" outside of government to come and make decisions for it, as well as make a mint, is not part of the strategy.

We have all the evidence we need to take action now. We do not need a housing evidence centre to do it. The evidence is that successive governments have failed to invest in the delivery of public, social and affordable housing, and that is why we have seen record numbers of people who are homeless, a massive public housing waiting list and so many living under rental stress or facing housing insecurity. This strategic policy is a slim document with a veneer of feel-good, generic fluff but very few real targets, commitments or key performance indicators. Surely an action plan must have concrete outcomes with figures and measurabilities in it? It mentions the words "public housing" only twice and that is in relation to leasing properties when there is insufficient or inadequate stock available. We need to see real investment in the delivery of social and affordable housing. We need reforms for renters that introduce fair protections for renters in this State. And we need to recognise that this Government has shamefully engaged in a process where it is trying to put forward a 20-year housing plan but that it has failed to listen to the detailed 300 submissions from peak and other bodies who have the solutions to reduce homelessness and take the action needed to ensure housing affordability and security in this State.

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