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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.


In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (reply given on 15/11/22)


The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Human Services has advised:

The Malinauskas Labor government promised more than $180 million for housing and homelessness at the 2022 election.

This includes $177.5 million in additional capital funding for the South Australian Housing Trust to build 400 new homes, bring 350 vacant properties back up to standard so they can be homes and conduct a maintenance blitz on 3,000 homes. 150 of the new homes will be built in regional areas.

The 400 new homes will include a dedicated 50-unit complex with onsite supports to help people exiting homelessness. The onsite supports are backed by a commitment of $4 million over four years and we have also provided an additional $6 million to Catherine House, St Vincent de Paul and the Hutt St Centre to boost homelessness supports in the CBD.

The Albanese federal Labor government has also committed to a $10 billion Housing Futures Fund that will deliver 30,000 social and affordable homes over five years and I look forward to working with federal Labor to ensure that South Australia maximises outcomes from this initiative.

We are reviewing the Emergency Accommodation Program that is currently spending almost $10 million per year on motel accommodation for people with nowhere else to go. While this program provides critical shelter, parents with children need cooking facilities and places for children to play that motel rooms can't offer.

The Malinauskas Labor government has also committed to establishing a task force to examine the housing challenges faced by older women.

The building industry is facing historic challenges–many brought about by the Liberal Party's HomeBuilder scheme that gave out $25,000 grants with no requirement for funds to support more accessible or affordable housing. These grants simply made already expensive homes even more unaffordable and have caused massive delays for tradies to undertake other work. In view of this, we are exploring innovative housing options that can be delivered faster and with less reliance on traditional industry supply chains.