Speech by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Answer to Question Without Notice – National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness

Mr MORRISON (Cook–Minister for Social Services) (15:02): I thank the member for Corangamite for her question. It was a great pleasure to be with the member for Corangamite in her electorate last Friday at the Waurn Ponds new Goodstart early childhood education centre, where we were taught many a song and a dance by the local children there. But I am asked about what the government is doing to support the homeless. When this government came to office, the 2013 budget, which the member for Lilley will recall, showed that the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness for the years 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17 allocated to support that agreement zero–nil. Absolute nil. Zip. Zero. That was the funding provided by the previous government to support that National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

I am pleased to advise the House that it was my predecessor, Minister Andrews, who took the first decision to extend the funding for that agreement for the current year, but I am also pleased to announce, in more good news from the Abbott government, that the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness will be continued for a further two years with $230 million provided by this government–offset fully in the budget–to ensure that we can deliver important services across the states, addressing the important issue of homelessness. That includes $45.6 million in Victoria, the home state of the member who asked the question, and it also includes $60 million for my home state of New South Wales. This agreement will see these funds matched by the states.

But we are not only just funding the program which the previous government shut the door on funding; what we are doing is improving the agreement because under the former government the agreement was a bit woolly. Money was shovelled out the door with no great accountability. We are improving the accountability standards and we are going to give very clear priorities. I am sure those opposite would agree with this: the priority for the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness should have a focus. To focus it on domestic violence, those affected by domestic violence and young people who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness should be the national priorities of this program.

I would hope–and I am sure it is the case–that it is the agreement of both sides of the House that that should be the priority, and that is what it will be under this. I appreciate the welcome that has been given to this announcement by the sector and by the states and I look forward to working with them as we move through the implementation of this arrangement. I note that this is in addition to the $1.3 billion paid annually under the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the $4.4 billion to support 1.3 million Australians through Commonwealth rental assistance.

So this government has stumped up when it comes to funding for homelessness in supporting the agreement that those opposite defunded.