Media Release by The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP

Abbott ignores housing affordability and homeless

Tony Abbott demonstrated his lack of understanding of the real pressures facing Australian families and households with his failure to mention housing affordability or homelessness in his half-hour speech to the National Press Club, Minister for Housing and Homelessness Brendan O’Connor said today.

“Federal Labor has made housing and homelessness national priorities since being elected in 2007,” Mr O’Connor said.

“We have invested an unprecedented $20 billion in housing affordability and homelessness services and programs, and have made a direct financial contribution to one in every 20 homes built since 2008.

“It is clear that will be reversed should the Liberals be elected in September. Mr Abbott has signalled a return to the decade of neglect under the Howard government, when $3.1 billion was ripped out of public housing and homes were allowed to fall into disrepair.

“With so many former Howard government Ministers on Mr Abbott’s frontbench, and with so many references to the Howard years in yesterday’s speech, it is clear that the housing sector would again be stranded in the political wilderness under the coalition.

“Indeed, you only have to look at what the conservative governments in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria are doing to public housing tenants to see where the federal coalition would head if in power.”

Under federal Labor, 21,000 social housing homes have been built around the nation, 11,000 affordable rental homes have been built with another 30,000 in the pipeline, and homes are being built faster in growing regional areas.

“Federal Labor has also invested $5.6 billion in homelessness services and programs – an investment which has already seen a 13.5 per cent drop in the rate of rough sleepers and a 23 per cent rise in the number of people in supported accommodation,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Our partnership with the States and Territories on homelessness is due to expire on 30 June.

“I am currently negotiating an interim 12-month agreement with my State and Territory counterparts to keep services open while a new long-term deal is struck.

“Mr Abbott has been silent on the future of these vital services for our most vulnerable Australians.

“It appears the only certainty for these people and the dedicated and compassionate workers who help them is that a coalition government would have no interest in them.”