Will Detention Center Operator Serco be Allowed to Run Public Housing in NSW?

Today we asked the Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian if Serco, the company that operates Australia's inhumane refugee detention centers, will be prevented from profiting from public housing in NSW. 


Ms JENNY LEONG ( Newtown ) ( 15:12 :12 ): My question is directed to the Treasurer. Given Serco—the company known for running inhumane detention centres in Australia—has expressed an interest in managing public housing and has met this year with the Minister for Social Housing, is there anything to prevent Serco from profiting from the newly established billion-dollar Social and Affordable Housing Fund?

The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister for Family and Community Services will come to order. I call the Minister for Family and Community Services to order for the first time.

Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN ( Willoughby—Treasurer, and Minister for Industrial Relations) (15:15:12): I thank the member for Newtown for her question.

The SPEAKER: I will wait until members stop telling me what to do. After one call they want the Minister thrown out. Opposition members are on 10 calls before they are thrown out. Is that right, the member for Rockdale? Three calls, seven warnings. One call and the Opposition wants the Minister thrown out?

Mr Chris Minns: Yes, throw him out.

The SPEAKER: The Treasurer has the call.

Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: I acknowledge and thank all members in this House because the social and affordable housing legislation went through this Chamber and the Parliament unopposed. We are proud because it is an Australian first. There is no other Government or jurisdiction in the nation that has set aside a dedicated ring-fenced fund to support social and affordable housing. We are the first Government to have done that, and we are proud of it. I am able to update the House that in May we narrowed down the potential bidders for phase one, which involves providing 3,000 extra dwellings for social and affordable housing. We narrowed down the bidders to nine interested parties and the organisation that was mentioned was not one of those bidders. I say clearly, notwithstanding the fact that I have articulated the facts for the benefit of the member for Newtown, Government entities, non-government entities and private entities that have an interest in supporting the noble intentions of this Government of providing additional social and affordable housing are free to participate in all of our processes.

For too long things have been done the same way in this State and the outcomes have not changed. Members opposite do not like to listen to this bit. They talked a lot about social and affordable housing and they did nothing. It is a credit to the Minister for Family and Community Services. As was apparent, he feels strongly about this issue, as do all Government members, because we care about those who are most vulnerable. We are in a strong budget position to be able to provide that support, which those opposite were not able to do. Even in a million years they would not have the ability, capacity or know-how to set up a dedicated billion-dollar fund, which is ring-fenced to support those who are most vulnerable in our community.

The SPEAKER: Order! There are too many interjections.


Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: I am bemused by the interjection by the member for Londonderry. I thought she supported social and affordable housing. I thought she said she supported the fund. I am not sure what her problem is. I appreciate Opposition members are a bit sensitive, because it highlights their hypocrisy. They say one thing in Opposition, but they failed to deliver in Government when they had the chance. In addition to the information requested by the member for Newtown, I have outlined the process we are up to in relation to the bidders.

While we invited bidders to participate in the process of supporting 3,000 extra dwellings for the first time, we also made it clear that small- or medium-sized bidders will have the chance to participate, because some of them might come forward with a solution for 200 extra houses in a particular part of the State. Others might come forward with 500. We have said through this process—which is a first—that bidders do not have to have a solution for 3,000 dwellings; they might have a solution in a particular part of the State for a fewer number than that. We want to provide flexibility to those on the ground who have the most expertise to deliver the best housing for those who are the most vulnerable. This is another example of a Government in control of its budget.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Bankstown to order for the second time.

Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: The member for Bankstown has not offered any policy position in this matter.

The SPEAKER: Order! I call the member for Bankstown to order for the third time.

Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: I note that the better our policies are, the stronger their interjections because they cannot handle the truth.

The SPEAKER: I warn the member for Bankstown for the last time.

Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: The member for Newtown might like to give me extra time. It is up to her; she might feel I have answered the question sufficiently. In particular, I thank Tracy Howe from NSW Council of Social Services for her amazing support of this policy. I also thank other stakeholders such as Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and the experts on the ground who have supported the Government in this initiative.


Link to Hansard

Sign up for updates