25 August 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I move:
That this council—
1. Notes the six-month extension to the short-term moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent due to severe rental distress as a result of COVID-19 is due to expire on September 1;
2. Recognises that the pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to the security of South Australians;
3. Calls on the Marshall government to immediately:
(a) guarantee that no South Australian renter will be evicted into homelessness, by extending the moratorium on eviction;
(b) waive all rental debt accrued by renters impacted by COVID-19; and
(c) introduce permanent rent caps to limit annual rent increases.
This is a motion calling on the government to extend the moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent due to severe rental distress as a result of COVID-19. It is also calling on the government to guarantee that no South Australian renter will be evicted into homelessness, by extending that moratorium; to waive all rental debt accrued by renters impacted by COVID-19; and to introduce permanent rent caps to limit annual rent increases.
You may recall back in May, shortly after my appointment to this parliament, I moved to extend the moratorium on evictions and rent hikes for 12 months. Unfortunately, it was only the Greens that supported that, but the government did agree to extend the moratorium until September. We now have a ticking time bomb when it comes to rental affordability that, I think, is going to explode next month unless the government takes action.
I am very concerned about the welfare of South Australians who are experiencing rental stress, who may find themselves evicted next month if the government does not step in and help them. My view is that this government has a responsibility to help the most vulnerable people in our community during this once-in-a-century pandemic, during this once-in-a-century economic crisis.
Sadly—and I think we all hoped we would not still be in this position as we enter into the second half of this year—the impact of COVID-19 is still being felt: the health impacts, but also the significant economic impacts that have destroyed many of our local businesses and are continuing to impact on the capacity of South Australians to make ends meet.
We know that South Australia has a significant shortage of affordable housing. That has been magnified by the failure of the Liberal government to invest in social housing at a state level as part of their budget, but it has also been exacerbated by the failure of the Liberal government in Canberra to invest in social housing and to provide any support for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
They gave a short-term increase to JobSeeker last year. The Greens welcomed that, but they should be making that increase permanent. If you are somebody who is single and you are trying to live on JobSeeker—and I say trying to live on JobSeeker because it is woefully inadequate—there is not a single property that you can afford to rent in South Australia. Anglicare did a report on this and that is what they found. There is not even one place that you can afford to rent. That is an outrage. It is an indictment on this state Liberal government that they have not taken action to address this housing affordability crisis.
That is what the Greens are calling on them to do today by calling on my colleagues in this chamber to support this motion so that we can get the government to step up and show the leadership that we desperately need on this crisis. We cannot afford to see vulnerable South Australians being cast onto the street. We know that if you move out of a tenancy and you find yourself homeless, that can set you on a long-term path of homelessness. That is not what we want for vulnerable South Australians, and the government needs to take action.