Media Release by The Hon Mark Butler MP

Campbell Newman fails renters in Budget – Federal Government to step in and save tenant service

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP

    The Hon Shayne Neumann MP
    Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General

The Gillard Labor Government today announced it would provide $2.5 million to fund the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service of Queensland (TAAS) for the continued operation of vital homeless prevention services across Queensland.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC said the six-month funding agreement would enable 23 local advice and advocacy services to continue supporting Queensland renters and protect local jobs, while the TAAS seeks a long-term funding agreement with the Queensland Government.

“Community legal centres play an invaluable role in delivering legal services to vulnerable members of the community,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“Premier Newman cannot cut funding to organisations like TAAS and expect community legal centres to simply add their work load to the already significant work they do.”

Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness Mark Butler said the State Government had failed homeless Queenslanders and vulnerable tenants in their 2013/14 Budget and called on the Premier to reverse the decision to de-fund the TAAS.

“Campbell Newman had an opportunity to man-up, admit he was wrong and commit funds to the tenant service with funding in the budget, but he has stubbornly refused to shift which is very disappointing,” Mr Butler said.

“The Queensland Government is clinging to the false notion that other organisations already provide this service but every time they identify which organisation they’re talking about, that organisation says they don’t.

“First they claimed it was the Residential Tenancies Association, but they are an impartial body which cannot provide advocacy. Then they claimed it was the Salvation Army who say they don’t provide this type of service. And finally they pointed their finger at community legal centres, but they don’t have the capacity to fill the void left by TAAS.

“Does Campbell Newman seriously think these ‘other services’ can just absorb the 80,000 clients TAAS supports each year without a cent in additional funding?

“The fact is the Queensland Government is wrong about this and they should be big enough to admit the policy rationale is false and change their position.”

Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General and Federal Queensland MP Shayne Neumann said Queensland simply couldn’t do without this vital service which supports around 80,000 renting households each year.

“This is a critical homelessness prevention service for tens of thousands of Queenslanders across our great state, from Cairns to Ipswich and from Mount Isa to Brisbane,” Mr Neumann said.

“Every other state government in Australia recognises the importance of this service and funds it appropriately and the Costello audit recommends more investment in prevention programs like this one.

“It seems Campbell Newman is the only person in Australia who thinks proper advice and advocacy for people at risk of homelessness is not necessary.

“This service costs Campbell Newman nothing, with funding coming from the interest earned on tenants’ bonds.

“The Federal Government is now funding these providers – something every other state and territory Government does – while Campbell Newman keeps the interest earned and abandons disadvantaged Queenslanders.”

“I’m pleased the people working in these important TAAS offices are able to continue doing the good work they do with this Federal Government funding.”

Mr Butler said this is strictly a six month agreement, to allow the Queensland Government to come back to the table and fund TAAS into the future.

The Gillard Labor Government has invested an unprecedented $26 billion in housing and homelessness since coming to government.