Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 March 2018) . . Page.. 887 ..
It is a shame that there is not too much reality in the motion today or in the speech presented by Mr Pettersson. We certainly hope that he will be able to sit down with Mr Stanhope soon and get some home truths about the Labor government.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (5.54): The Greens will be supporting Mr Pettersson’s motion today. But in addition to Mr Pettersson’s motion, we would also like to note the work of the public housing renewal task force in rehousing existing public housing tenants. I draw the Assembly’s attention to the accessibility of these new dwellings. Almost all of the new dwellings meet the gold standard for livable housing design guidelines for the new public housing stock to better meet the housing needs of a wide variety of tenants, including, importantly, people with disabilities and older people.
I understand the Justice and Community Services Directorate is currently undertaking work on more reformation of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. I am not really in a position to say much more about that except that I hope that some of the reformation of this will benefit tenants in the private rental market, especially those on low incomes who have a very limited choice in their housing.
As has been pointed out by other speakers, housing affordability is an issue that affects a wide range of other social and economic circumstances. Rough sleepers, for example, have more engagement with health services and the justice system. Conversely, the positive, non-shelter outcomes of housing assistance programs are well documented and include wellbeing outcomes in poverty reduction, health, education and social cohesion.
But this is not an issue that affects just people living in housing stress or experiencing homelessness. One of the worst and, indeed, one of the most long-lasting outcomes of our high housing costs is the increase in inherited inequality. Speaking yesterday at the National Press Club at the launch of the everybody’s home campaign, Professor Julian Disney noted that wealth inequality in Australia is 10 times greater than income quality. People’s housing options and careers are being increasingly defined by their parents’ wealth as more and more young adults receive help from their parents to become home owners: the bank of mum and dad.
Housing stress is experienced most deeply in the rental market. In the ACT we have the highest proportion of people—48 per cent—in any state or territory who are paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent after receiving commonwealth rent assistance. The housing affordability crisis is a text book example of market failure. Where markets fail in essential goods and services, like having a safe and secure home, people quite reasonably expect governments to step in and protect them from market failure.
In that spirit, I welcome the focus of Mr Pettersson’s motion. Housing affordability in the ACT is affected by a range of factors, including many that are, of course, outside the ACT’s government control, such as the federal tax system and our monetary policy. However, there is still a significant role for the ACT government in alleviating pressure on people experiencing homelessness or housing stress. Despite the