Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Statements on tabled papers and petitions

Department of Treasury and Finance

Department of Treasury and Finance

Quarterly Financial Report No. 1

Wendy LOVELL (Northern Victoria) (17:17): I rise to speak on the Victorian budget 2022–23 Quarterly Financial Report No. 1, which is the report for the September quarter, but it has only just recently been tabled. Of course we know that the budget raises the budget for everything in this state, including public housing and social housing. What we have seen under this government is not only a rapid rise in the number of families who are languishing on waiting lists but also the data around that being hidden. We know that up until June last year the public housing and social housing waiting list – because it includes both public and community – had risen by 59 per cent under this government. But of even greater concern than that is that the priority component of that waiting list had risen by 20,776 families, who are left to wait, languishing on the list. The list now has 30,766 families languishing on it – that is at June last year – an increase of 208 per cent under this government.

But of course we do not know what has happened since June because the government are hiding the figures from us. The September waiting list figures are now 145 days overdue and the December waiting list figures are now 53 days overdue. These are figures that were published regularly under previous governments, including both Labor and Liberal governments, and why this government is hiding these, we can only assume, is because they have absolutely exploded even further.

Another report that the government is hiding is the social housing assistance additional service data that is released as part of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing annual report. So if you go onto the DFFH site, eight months or even more after the end of the last financial year, it still says, ‘These files will be available shortly.’ So all we have to go on are the figures from June 2021.

What I want to talk about particularly is social housing in the town of Rochester. The town of Rochester has been severely impacted by the floods, as we all know. Ninety per cent of the homes have been affected by the floods. A number of the homes that have been inundated would be social housing properties, and we need to ensure that these are brought back on line as quickly as possible. But we also know that some of the private rentals will never come back on line, or if they do come back on line, because they have been renovated and because there will be less of them, the cost of the rental will increase.

What we know is that prior to the floods, at 30 June 2021, there were 793 social housing properties in Campaspe. That is in the whole shire. 169 were community owned, 624 were public. A number of those properties will have been impacted by floods in Rochester, in Echuca and in other areas. In Rochester at June 2022 there were 197 families languishing on the waiting list; 152 of those had priority status. They were homeless, escaping domestic violence or living with a disability, needing special housing, and there were 197 languishing on the list. That is at June 2022. We do not know how many that had gotten to before the floods, but we can guarantee that it is a lot more since then.

What the government is not doing in Rochester is providing any legacy project that will benefit the town moving forward. In my opinion the government should be investing significantly in community housing and social housing to make sure that they do leave a legacy for this town – that there are additional rental housing properties available, because there will be social housing properties there, particularly to look after the most vulnerable of those tenants, the ones that are going to be priced out of the private rental market if the rents increase dramatically, which we expect that they will. This is something that could be funded out of the government’s Big Housing Build, and it would provide a real legacy to this town to allow it to recover from the floods and to benefit it going forward.