Thursday, 19 October 2023

Questions without notice and ministers statements

Housing data

Wendy LOVELL, Harriet SHING

Housing data

Wendy LOVELL (Northern Victoria) (12:24): (316) My question is for the Minister for Housing. Minister, each year the department publish additional service delivery data for the housing portfolio as a supplement to the department’s annual report. This additional data is normally published on the department’s website. The additional data includes detailed information on social housing and homelessness services and information on acquisitions, sales, demolitions and the number of houses leased both by type and division, as well as a breakdown of housing locations by local government area, including the type of housing and bedroom numbers. Minister, this additional data should have been available by the time the 2021–22 annual report was tabled in Parliament on 21 September last year. However, the 2021–22 additional data has still not been published. Minister, why has the government failed to publish this important detailed information?

Harriet SHING (Eastern Victoria – Minister for Housing, Minister for Water, Minister for Equality) (12:25): Thank you, Ms Lovell, for that question, and I note your interest in this given your previous role and the way in which you had responsibility for housing in the former coalition government between 2010 and 2014. In responding to your question, I note that there is a record investment in housing across the state. We are working to reduce the housing register and the number of people on it, and we are investing, as I have said over a number of occasions, more than $6.3 billion in social housing across the state.

Wendy Lovell interjected.

Harriet SHING: Come on, Ms Lovell, I am trying to provide you with information. What we are in the process of doing is making sure that we are addressing that need where it arises, and it arises across the entire state. I am very happy, Ms Lovell, to come back to you with some further information on that. There is a fair degree of detail in this portfolio, as you would no doubt appreciate, and what I will do is seek some further information and come back to you. I am also very happy to provide you with additional information in that report.

We are flat stick building and delivering houses, though, and that construction and that delivery continue across the state.

Members interjecting.

Harriet SHING: All right, what you have done now, Ms Lovell – I do not want to say that you have thrown a gauntlet, but there you go. We do not actually make it contingent on having the right sneakers or an iPhone in order to get access to social housing. We do not in fact let the register continue to escalate without making record investments – the largest reforms into social housing that this state has ever seen, a partnership with the Commonwealth to the tune of $500 million in social housing accelerator –

Nicholas McGowan: On a point of order, President, I would ask you to bring the minister back to the question, as the minister has strayed well and truly far from the question.

The PRESIDENT: I could not hear her. I was about to stand up – and you know I do not do that much – because it was getting out of control in here. But the minister has got 46 seconds, and I will bring her to the question.

Harriet SHING: Ms Lovell, we have a lot to report on, and the annual reporting process is a big part of that. I will see whether last year’s data and this year’s can in fact be brought together within the annual reporting processes. But what we know that data will show is that the largest ever investment in social housing that this state has ever seen is delivering record reforms, record updates and record alleviation of the challenges for people from across the homelessness space into crisis and emergency accommodation through to affordability and home ownership. Ms Lovell, I am looking forward to giving that data to you, including perhaps as part of the annual reporting process.

Wendy LOVELL (Northern Victoria) (12:29): Minister, during the PAEC hearings on 7 June my colleague Mr McGowan asked why this additional data had not been published. The interim CEO of Homes Victoria Camille Kingston responded by saying it was an oversight within the department that they had picked up recently and it would be published fairly shortly. When pushed for it to be released that day or the next, she answered, ‘Yes, fairly quickly.’ Over four months later it has still not been published, which indicates that the government is desperate to hide this data. Minister, will you commit to publishing this data today, given that Camille Kingston said it was available and it would be published fairly shortly over four months ago?

Harriet SHING (Eastern Victoria – Minister for Housing, Minister for Water, Minister for Equality) (12:30): Thanks, Ms Lovell, for your very belated interest in actually delivering something for housing. I note that that is possibly something that might be a little new to you.

Members interjecting.

Harriet SHING: That is right. It would be my expectation that last year’s data and this year’s data will be published in line with annual reporting processes.

Wendy Lovell interjected.

Harriet SHING: What I am happy to do, Ms Lovell, is give you a measure of comfort to assist with your new-found interest in housing and delivering on social housing reforms. What I will also do, Ms Lovell, is extend an invitation to you, if you are actually interested in finding out what is being delivered, to come out on the ground and to see the delivery of these projects in ways that are actually improving people’s lives and making a big difference. You do not have to have the right sneakers or the right postcode in order to get that benefit, that amenity and that connection to community.