Media Release by The Hon Mark Butler MP

Newman Government refuses to accept more money for homelessness

As if it wasn’t enough that the Newman Government has slashed funding to services that support people with disability, older Australians and the mentally ill, they’ve now set their sights on the homeless.

The Gillard Labor Government is offering to increase the level of funding to the Queensland Government for homelessness services under the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness, but instead of accepting that new funding – and matching it – they’ve chosen to use homeless Australians as a political football.

Mr Butler said the Australian Government had put up to $159 million on the table for states and territories to continue vital services that tackle homelessness under the Agreement.

“We’ve put an offer on the table and other states have engaged constructively in negotiating the agreement, but the Newman Government has again demonstrated its intent to put political fights ahead of the best interests of Queenslanders,” Mr Butler said.

“Service providers need certainty about next year’s funding so that they can continue providing critical support to some of our most vulnerable Australians and this will only be resolved when states and territories sign on to this agreement.”

“But we all know what the Newman Government has done to social services since coming to power – they’ve slashed funding to NGOs and then gagged those same NGOs from speaking out against their crippling cuts.”

Since November 2012, the Newman Government has refused to provide detailed information to determine the level of homelessness services funded under this National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

Mr Butler said without this information there is no way of knowing where the services are located, let alone how much funding each service receives or how much funding the Commonwealth should provide.

“Queensland is the only state that has refused to supply this information – it’s a real shame for people in Queensland who stand to lose from the Newman Government’s careless approach.”

“This is not the way to try and secure essential services for Queensland’s most vulnerable people.”

Mr Butler said the one-year transitional agreement for 2013-14 is an important first step as the Government continues to work with the states and territories towards an integrated and holistic response to homelessness beyond 2014.

The Gillard Labor Government has invested an unprecedented $20 billion in housing and homelessness services since coming to Government and we remain committed to halving the rate of homelessness by 2020 because every Australian deserves a safe and secure home.”