Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Homelessness – Doorstop Sydney

*** E & OE – Proof only ***

JOURNALIST: The Rudd Government’s homelessness initiative hasn’t got off the ground on schedule, why is that?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well that’s not correct. In fact, we have five States where we have agreements, implementation plans agreed, and from today money will start to flow to those States to make sure that we can get on with delivering on our homelessness agenda. Making sure that the services that we know are so critical for homeless Australians to get on the ground. We’re also making sure that with the State and Territories where we are yet to finalise the agreements that they are done as quickly as possible. We’ve also been very active making sure that housing is both upgraded, and built. What we’ve seen over the last few months is a very significant amount of effort around Australia to upgrade homes. In some cases, homes that were previously not good enough to live in. So we’ve seen upgrades to around 15,000 homes and that will mean of course that homeless people have got more opportunity to get a decent home. There’s also been construction work commenced on more than 500 new social housing dwellings, and 7,000 new homes have now been approved for construction. So a lot of work is underway, both to make sure that the delivery of services for homeless people takes place. Money will start to flow from today but we’ve also seen a significant number of upgrades of homes. Fifteen thousand upgrades, more homes being built, and more homes about to start construction.

JOURNALIST: Where are the actual hold ups?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I’ve just demonstrated…..

JOURNALIST: Which State and which Territory?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well I’ve just demonstrated to you that with five States we don’t have a hold up. We’ve got money starting to flow from today and it’s critical that that be recognised. We’re finalising our implementation plans with New South Wales and with the two Territories, and that will be done as quickly as possible.

JOURNALIST: When you say money’s going to begin flowing today what sort of money are you talking about?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well, that’s all agreed in the implementation plans. So we’ll see the money for services in each, and it’s different in each State and Territory, as you would understand, we can give you that breakdown separately if you’d like. But what I can say is that money will start to flow from today, but I’d like it to be absolutely recognised that we’re also making sure that homeless people have homes to go to. And that’s why we’ve concentrated on the upgrade of public housing, the upgrade of community housing, getting new homes built, and to have 7,000 homes now approved for construction demonstrates our commitment as part of our overall social housing agenda for getting more homes available for homeless people.

JOURNALIST : Why hasn’t the implementation been worked out in New South Wales and the two Territories?

JENNY MACKLIN: There’s still some final work to be done between the Commonwealth and those jurisdictions and that will be done very quickly.

JOURNALIST: Which States are then trying to use money from the previous financial year, passing it off as new money under this (inaudible)?

JENNY MACKLIN: Well there’s some final work to be done to get some of these implementation plans ready to be approved. I’ve indicated which State and which Territories they are. That finalisation will be done very quickly. But I am pleased to say that in the other five States the money will start to flow from today.

JOURNALIST: Does this mean all three of those States were trying to use 08/09 funds?

JENNY MACKLIN: There are different issues and that will be resolved quickly.