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Homes Amendment Bill No.6 of 2016 - Second Reading Speech

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, I also thank the Leader for the informative briefing.

We must look after vulnerable Tasmanians. It appears this bill will provide more affordable homes for disadvantaged Tasmanians. While I accept there are still some concerns held by some community service providers, there have been a number of groups satisfied with the bill. Others have advised that the proposed amendments have satisfied their concerns. While I agree with other members that consultation could have been better, there appears to be clear purpose and intent with this bill. It still allows the ability for parliamentary scrutiny in the future.

We do need more affordable housing in Tasmania. Disadvantaged Tasmanians need to be well served. Legislation needs to support vulnerable people being able to access safe and affordable homes. Measures are to be put in place to ensure assets cannot be transferred out and any money received, particularly from sale of properties to tenants, would be put back into this scheme, with the mission to increase housing stock availability, both present and future.

We were told at the briefings there were over 2 800 people currently on the waiting list with over 14 600 households classified as being under housing stress or duress. Forty years ago, when I was a lot younger, I worked as an electorate officer for the federal minister for environment, housing and community development. I recall at the time people coming into the office who were sleeping and living in their cars. How sad it is that 40 years on the situation has not improved. We need to do something different to improve the situation.

What do they say? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Therefore, I am pleased to see Housing Tasmania realises they were not doing enough and change was required. When Housing Tasmania transferred many homes to Better Housing Futures it proved very successful. We are told 85 per cent of people chose to move their lease to the community service provider.

Currently, Housing Tasmania has a huge maintenance backlog. With fewer properties on their books this will hopefully allow them to better look after the homes left. This is very important. The private community service providers are able to access advantages not available to Housing Tasmania, such as Commonwealth rent assistance and tax advantages.

I believe the providers will greatly assist vulnerable and/or disadvantaged Tasmanians. Housing Tasmania cannot afford to build the necessary homes to accommodate those needing them, with homelessness having increased by, we were told, 37 per cent in only five years and the need for rapid rehousing for victims of family violence, along with the growing maintenance bill.

I support the initiative and I am sure the not-for-profit community providers will endeavour to improve the lack of housing for those in greatest need.

I support the bill.

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