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Question: More Public Housing for SA

18 May 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the minister representing the Minister for Human Services.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Last week, the University of South Australia, and I believe Housing Australia, released a report, Beyond the Housing Crisis: A Home for All, regarding South Australia's housing crisis. The report found that rental availability and affordability are at an all-time low across the country, with more than 6,000 people experiencing homelessness each night in South Australia and more than 30,000 people now on the state's housing wait list.

This is a dramatic increase from last year, when it was reported that 16,000 people were waiting for a home. I note that the Labor Party, when in opposition at that time, were very critical of the then Liberal state government's handling of the matter. Those numbers have doubled in a year. With vacancy rates low, finding suitable rental properties is very difficult. To quote Professor Beer from the University of South Australia:

Rental availability is at its worst in South Australia where vacancy rates hit 0.2 per cent in March 2022.

Having a roof over your head is a basic human right, but here in South Australia our system is not coping. Survey data from the report shows that South Australians feel impacted by the housing crisis and do not think the government is doing enough. My question to the minister is:

  1. What is the Malinauskas government doing to address the housing crisis, particularly for people who are unable to find basic rental properties?
  2. Will the government commit to building more housing?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his very important question. I would expect that everyone in this chamber should be aware of the housing crisis that South Australia is facing, and elsewhere around the country as well. Certainly, in many regional areas in particular, in which I have a particular interest, I have been speaking with many people about the issues around housing and the increase in homelessness.

It is important to note that that homelessness is not simply confined to people who are sleeping rough on the streets, but many people who perhaps have a roof over their head tonight but it might not be available tomorrow—it might be a different one tomorrow. There are those terrible social impacts on individuals and on families, but there are also the impacts on the economy. We are finding, particularly in regional areas, that a lack of housing is preventing people taking up jobs in regional areas, which of course then becomes a vicious cycle.

Certainly, in terms of further detail I refer to my colleague in the other place the Minister for Human Services, but of course there were a number of announcements prior to the election in terms of what the Malinauskas Labor government will be doing in terms of housing, and I'm happy to bring back further information and detail to this place.

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary question: given the inadequacy of the government's housing plan, will the minister be advocating for more investment in housing for the regions?

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I am assuming that the member is referring to the inadequacy of the former government's plans, which I think everyone would agree were—

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Point of order: I was actually referring to the Malinauskas government's inadequate plan to build 400 public homes—totally insufficient.

The PRESIDENT: It's not a point of order; it's not how we deal with it. Minister, you answer your question and then, if you have a further supplementary, the Hon. Mr Simms will do that.

The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN: I think, even if that wasn't the intent of this member's question, the feedback I have had about the former government was certainly that their plans were entirely inadequate and their plans for regional areas were—most people weren't even aware of any.

Of course, it's always important to be advocating for an appropriate level of housing and that includes social housing and all other levels of housing. It's important from, as I mentioned, a social point of view, from a rights point of view, as the member correctly pointed out, and also from an economic point of view.