Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Commonwealth offers landmark housing deal

At today’s meeting with State and Territory Housing Ministers in Hobart I issued a challenge to the State and Territory governments by offering a new, landmark housing deal, including a $223 million increase in funding from the Commonwealth.

I made it very clear that the Howard Government is committed to strengthening the new Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA) to provide a better deal for disadvantaged Australians.

The key features of the Commonwealth’s funding package include:

  • funding certainty through a new five-year agreement to take effect when the current, four-year CSHA expires on 30 June 2003;
  • total Commonwealth funding contributions of $4.75 billion, which represents a funding increase of $223 million if the current CSHA had been continued for 5 years; and
  • introduction of indexation of total Commonwealth funding contributions to maintain the real value of Commonwealth funding. This will include indexation of funding for the Aboriginal Rental Housing Program, Community Housing Program and Crisis Accommodation Program.

The Agreement plays a vital role in providing housing assistance to those in need. It is jointly funded by the Commonwealth, and States and Territories to provide assistance to public and community housing tenants and other groups in housing need.

We are willing to provide more funding, but in return we expect States and Territories to make significant improvements to the public housing system that they are responsible for managing.

Our funding offer is in addition to the Commonwealth Government’s significant funding for low-income earners through the Rent Assistance program, and assistance to home purchasers through the First Home Owners Grant.

The Commonwealth funding offer is a clear signal of the Howard Government’s commitment to help support families and individuals in need.

I look forward to discussing with the States and Territories what they will bring to the table so that we can combine our efforts to support and improve our public and community housing system. Our commitment is clear, the question is are the States and Territories up to the challenge? I hope so.