Media Release by Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

Housing affordability can’t risk Labor

Minister for Community Services Nigel Scullion today said the election of a Federal Labor Government could contribute to the housing affordability crisis with fears that building costs would increase under the Labor Party’s industrial relations policy.

‘Housing affordability is already at breaking point due to the policies and sky-high taxes of State Labor Governments. Now we have news today that the building industry is already factoring in the extra costs that would be associated with having a Federal Labor Government as well,’ Senator Scullion said.

‘If Federal Labor is serious about assisting those affected by the lack of public housing they would call on the state and territory Labor Governments to explain why the number of public houses is in decline when Australians are being slugged with record high state property taxes.

‘In 1996/97 there were 385,457 public houses available; this fell to 385,444 in 2004/05. At the same time over the six years from 1999/2000 to 2004/05 the states increased their land tax by a whopping 85 per cent.

‘The Australian Government also provided the states with $9.6 billion in funds for housing in the nine years to 2004-05, but the number of actual houses fell by 13 nationally.

‘The Labor Party is using its energies to peddle misinformation when it could be focussing on the lack of political will from its mates in the Labor State Governments to act on the housing crisis.

‘Contrary to the muck being raked by the Labor Party, the Australian Government has allocated $932 million for the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program.

‘We have provided uncapped rent assistance to the tune of $2 billion in 2006/06 which has assisted 954,000 families and individuals. However, the Australian Government recognises that rent assistance is of no use to a family without a house, which is why the lack of public housing is of such concern to us.

‘Vitally, this Government has provided record low unemployment and record low interest rates as opposed to the record high unemployment and interest rates that Australian families struggled with under the last Labor Government.

‘The issue of housing affordability should not be used as a political point-scoring exercise by the Australian Labor Party, they should be working together at a state and federal level to provide real outcomes for Australian families,’ Senator Scullion said.