Jenny Leong MP Speaks Out Against the Privatisation of Public Housing

Greens Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP has condemned the Liberal/National Governments ongoing privatisation agenda -particularly in regards to public housing.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (17:25): On behalf of The Greens I speak in debate on the public interest motion that this House does not support any further privatisation of government assets. I acknowledge the Labor Opposition for bringing this important public debate to the Chamber. As we have heard listed, we could be focused on so many things in the context of this debate. But given that the New South Wales housing strategy was released today, with the headline initiative announcing that it will make it easier for property developers to use a database to search public assets and land, and pitch to the Government how they would like to bid to allow them to privatise that, that probably tops the charts at the moment in a privatisation agenda.

I make it clear to the New South Wales housing Minister: We do not solve the housing crisis by creating a database to allow property developers to buy public land and redevelop public housing into for‑profit, private housing that the people in the State cannot afford to live in. That is not a housing strategy. The Minister in her comments today—and the associated commentary around it—was suggesting that this is exactly what we need: to go out to the private sector and private developers to get their ideas on how to deal with the housing crisis in this State. If we are talking about the idea of privatisation and outsourcing, this would suggest that she is in effect outsourcing and privatising her own responsibilities as the Minister, which is to come up with the ideas and the strategy to deliver on how we solve the housing crisis in the State.

Imagine for a second how one would feel if one was living in public housing in Redfern, Waterloo, Surry Hills, Mangerton, Bellambi, up north, down south, in the west, or in the Upper Hunter, and one saw the State Government put one's home—the place where one lives—on a database for property developers to potentially bid, buy and redevelop. One would still be living in that place and in that community. This is the strategy we are seeing out of a privatisation‑obsessed Liberal‑Nationals Government. I think the other crucial point to make around this is that there is a reason why we are seeing this, because the Government is refusing to recognise the need to invest public money in public infrastructure or to deliver the social and affordable housing that our community needs. If we are going to see this new database appear it is crucial that we get a commitment out of the Minister and the Government that this database is only being done to enable redevelopment plans around public land and housing that will see a re‑delivery of 100 per cent public and social housing on that land.

Sadly, I do not think that is going to happen because its Communities Plus model is built on starting with 100 per cent public housing, somehow fudging and spinning it a bit, ending up with 70 per cent private housing and 30 per cent public housing, and claiming that it has increased the amount of social housing in the community. I still cannot work out how that works, but that is its current policy to deliver on apparently more social housing in our community. Meanwhile, the ABC today reported that services on the South Coast are bracing for an increase in homelessness as winter approaches. The housing crisis is not just a theoretical problem there. It affects people's lives in the most fundamental way. The ABC today reported:

Wollongong Emergency Housing has admitted it is struggling to keep up with the increase in demand for their services. CEO Mandy Booker said she fears their efforts won't be enough in the upcoming cold season.

Last week I met with Mandy Booker and saw the phenomenal work that her team does in supporting people with their housing applications and temporary accommodation, providing emergency onsite accommodation, and all too often seeing that their only option is to provide people with a swag or a tent. That is not the solution and would demonstrate the failures of this Government to deliver. In addition we see the mayor of Shoalhaven, Amanda Findley, today urgently calling for an intervention by the Government for more affordable housing. Mayor Findley has been a compassionate, calm and competent leader, supporting the Shoalhaven community through catastrophic fires and floods. Now she is facing a housing crisis and she is calling on the Government to act. Whether it be the privatisation of public housing or public land, Communities Plus, the privatisation of TAFE, electricity or our local inner west bus services, this Liberal‑Nationals Government only knows how to do one thing and that is to put the profits of private big business and dodgy property developers above the needs of the community.

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