9 February 2022
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Human Services on the topic of the rental moratorium on evictions for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: In May, the parliament provided renters experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 with a reprieve when it extended the moratorium on evictions until September 1. This was again extended until December but has since expired. Given the pandemic has entered a new phase, with borders being opened by the Liberals and the Omicron variant therefore running rampant, we know that the pandemic and the associated economic crisis has coincided with a rental affordability crisis in our state and there are more and more South Australians struggling to find affordable housing.
My question to the minister is: what arrangements, if any, have been put in place to ensure that no South Australian will be evicted into homelessness now that this moratorium is no longer in place?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): I thank the honourable member for his question. The government runs a number of services that assist in the homelessness prevention space. I think that certainly what we saw through COVID, especially in the early phases, was that before the financial support was made available for people who needed it, there were grave concerns about people being evicted into homelessness.
I would be hazarding a guess that in terms of people who are in the private rental market, particularly those who have sustained private rental for some time, we do see some people who come to our services, either to the South Australian Housing Authority to register for public or community housing and also to seek support from the homelessness service providers. A number of people wouldn't actually require those services, but support is always available.
I think we are in a period where we are transitioning certainly the economy and in terms of people's employment prospects, as the Treasurer has already outlined, we have very low rates of unemployment. Generally speaking, people in South Australia are doing as well as anyone in the world on that economic front. We always have services available regardless of what the particular situation is and, indeed, the queries that come across my desk are generally resolved one way or another so those support services are effective and they are working.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: has the minister advocated to her colleagues for the moratorium to be extended?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services): The honourable member may not have the benefit of how government operates, but these are cabinet decisions and, as a member of cabinet, that is my decision as well.