Strange bedfellows: Political foes call for more social housing

The LNP Opposition has joined other crossbenchers in demanding more social housing – normally only a priority for the Greens.

May 13, 2021, updated Aug 13, 2021
Housing minister Leanne Enoch.

Housing minister Leanne Enoch.

The Liberal National Party on Wednesday moved a motion criticising the Palaszczuk government’s management of social housing stocks and calling for more investment in homes and infrastructure more broadly.

“The issues affecting the housing market in general are bigger than just social housing,” veteran Opposition frontbencher Fiona Simpson told parliamemt.

“When I raise the rental crisis, the government talks about social housing but forgets about the broader market. In Queensland, while the population has been increasing, there has been a fall-off in the rate of approvals of new dwellings.

“I know of families on the Sunshine Coast who are living in tents in the forest and of others on the beach. In Cairns I spoke to a professional with a good job who is living in his car as he cannot get a house.

“What about the desperate families who have kids living in a car? That is bad enough for anybody, but this story has been repeated right throughout our communities.”

In response, Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch said the government’s $1.6 billion Housing Construction Jobs Program was the biggest investment in social housing since World War II and would deliver 5,500 social housing and affordable homes by 2027.

Labor MPs accused the LNP of only caring about social housing in opposition, and doing nothing about it in government – just like their counterparts in the Morrison Government.

“In last night’s budget the federal LNP turned its back on the most vulnerable people who need support to keep a roof over their head,” Enoch told parliament.

“The Palaszczuk government is continuing to do the heavy lifting to increase the supply of social housing, but we need the federal government to step up.”

The Greens, who most often raise concerns about social housing, were denied a speaking slot in the debate and did not vote. Labor used its numbers to vote down the motion, with One Nation and Katter’s Australian Party siding with the LNP.

It came as QCOSS and other community sector organisations ramped up their social housing campaign, with billboards being erected across the state. They want to pressure governments to do more.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh said there were 47,036 people on the social housing register, a number that would only increase due to housing affordability pressures and the low rental vacancy rate.

“Both the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government have a responsibility to do something urgently about the housing crisis,” McVeigh said.

“Supply is simply not keeping up with demand.” 

The Greens will build on their call for more social housing today. South Brisbane MP Amy MacMahon said governments had options available to them to boost housing.

“On top of QCOSS’s call for 14,700 homes, we need at least 100,000 public homes, which we could easily afford with a modest bank levy, a value gains tax for developers, or an increase to mining royalties, giving us billions of dollars to invest in Queenslanders,” MacMahon said.

“And rental reform in Queensland has to include caps on rent increases, this is a crucial part of ensuring every Queenslander has a home.

“The only reason that we, in a wealthy state like Queensland, have a housing crisis, is a lack of political will.”

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