Media Release by The Hon Mark Butler MP

Newman Government must fund critical tenant services

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Wayne Swan MP
    Deputy Prime Minster

The Gillard Government today announced a $2.5 million life-raft to the Queensland Government to continue critical advice and advocacy services to vulnerable tenants for another six months.

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Government funding offer, if accepted by Premier Newman, would allow current services to continue under the Queensland Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service.

“I would hope Mr Newman takes this opportunity to right a wrong – sit down with the Queensland Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service in good faith negotiations on a long term agreement,” Mr Swan said.

“These services are recognised as a core state and territory responsibility – every other jurisdiction in Australia funds tenant advice and advocacy services – and last month all states and territories agreed in principle to continue providing these services.”

Minister for Housing and Homelessness said providers’ contracts end on 30 June 2013 but the Newman Government had refused to budge on its decision to de-fund the service.

“This decision is hanging like a black cloud over the head of vital homelessness services around Queensland,” Mr Butler said.

“The most effective way to reduce homelessness is to prevent people becoming homeless in the first place and services such as QTAAS help to do exactly that.

“I call on Campbell Newman to come to the table and re-open discussion with QTAAS so that a solution can be found. At least sit down and have a constructive conversation about the continuation of services in good faith.

“Should the Newman Government refuse to fund dedicated Tenant Advice and Advocacy Services, the Australian Government will be looking at all available levers, including denying requests from Queensland to approve delays in delivering social housing initiatives through funding underspends and to provide access to the proposed Housing Payment Deduction Scheme.

“Already, the uncertainty caused by the Queensland Government’s decision, has resulted in existing TAASQ services in Cairns to cease due to staffing issues and this stalemate has to end.

“Every day, dedicated workers in these support services work hard to help tenants keep a roof over their head and avoid becoming homeless. They deserve to know what their own future holds.”

Mr Butler said the loss of this service would hurt most for older Australians, people with a disability and people living in caravan parks who are most vulnerable.

“The Commonwealth has stepped in to try and find a solution in good faith but we can’t do all the heavy lifting ourselves – at some point the Newman Government, who are actually responsible for delivering these services, have to stand up,” Mr Butler said.

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