Thursday, 21 March 2024

Questions without notice and ministers statements




Evan MULHOLLAND (Northern Metropolitan) (12:24): (481) My question is to the Minister for Housing. The Ombudsman’s report into social housing complaints identified community concern around your lack of planning for the demolition of 44 public housing towers. With only 1322 extra social homes in Victoria after six years and $4 billion, the Ombudsman cannot see where the tenants evicted from the towers will go. Minister, where will you decant thousands of your tenants?

Harriet SHING (Eastern Victoria – Minister for Housing, Minister for Water, Minister for Equality) (12:25): Thank you very much, Mr Mulholland. Again referring back to the Ombudsman’s report yesterday, there was considerable analysis of the impact of the Big Housing Build on the way in which renters’ environments can be improved. To go back to a number of references that I have made in this place and indeed other contexts publicly and in many discussions with communities, there is a need that is only becoming more pressing to make sure that people who currently call the towers home have places to live that are secure, that are accessible, that are modern, that are energy efficient, that comply with temporary standards –

Nick McGowan: On a point of order, President, the standing orders require that the minister be direct. The question was a simple one about where the residents will go, not about the need or anything other.

The PRESIDENT: I think the minister was being relevant to the question, but I will call her back to it.

Harriet SHING: Thank you, Mr Mulholland. In delivering the development of the towers as part of a multidecade investment, we can ensure that the 10,000 people, around 6800 households, who call the towers home have somewhere to live that complies with design standards on fire, flood and seismic risk. This is also about making sure that when and as we bring new housing on line we continue to discuss what it is that renters want around where they want to relocate. This is about a process of engagement. There has been a dedicated relocations team that has been working assiduously with renters to ask them where they want to go, to have them identify priority areas. As at 7 March, Mr Mulholland, Homes Victoria had had individual meetings with 98 per cent of all households in Flemington and North Melbourne. Ninety-two per cent of all households in those areas have submitted an application to outline the type and location of housing that they would like to move to, and 70 per cent of those people have a preference to remain within their community and the immediate area. Mr Mulholland, in identifying a number of areas which people might wish to move to, those locations will change. If people welcome a new baby, if their family size changes, if people’s cultural communities are located and relocated in other parts of the city, that will influence the way in which people exercise that right. But of course a right of return is an inherent part of that process, and it will continue to be.

Evan MULHOLLAND (Northern Metropolitan) (12:28): With rising maintenance complaints, the Ombudsman tells us that you have put no plans in place to manage complaints. Will you be allocating funds in this year’s budget to manage the maintenance and complaints of the remaining families who will be in public housing towers until 2050?

The PRESIDENT: I do not think it does relate to the substantive, but I am happy to ask the minister to answer the question as she sees fit.

Harriet SHING (Eastern Victoria – Minister for Housing, Minister for Water, Minister for Equality) (12:29): Thank you very much, President, for the opportunity to address not just the challenge but the investment going into maintenance in the public housing towers. We know that this ageing stock built between the 1950s and the 1970s was the subject of a parliamentary inquiry report. It has been abundantly clear that the ageing nature of this stock requires ongoing maintenance, and that is where it forms a significant part of the services provided to more than 64,00 dwellings. That is then about making sure that we can address a range of maintenance requests, translating to about 93,300 jobs, as the remaining jobs were duplicates or no longer required within the total volume of 184,000 complaints. We have had around a 75 per cent reduction in maintenance requests over the last year. Over half of those are with contractors for delivery, but again, that local maintenance component, including people who live in and work around those estates, is part of what we are doing to deliver those improvements.