*Opinion piece published in The Examiner on Thursday 23rd February.
Sometimes I’m a bit of a fan of Bridget Archer, the MP for Bass.
I respect the fact she’s prepared to stick up for her principles even if it means voting against her party.
Like last week, when she broke from her party’s position to vote for the Albanese Government’s Housing Affordability Future Fund. She described the bill as “a step forward to providing more Australians, more Tasmanians… with a roof over their head.”
To some extent, she’s spot on. We don’t have enough homes in Tassie. Rents are crazy high. Tasmania’s rental costs eat up more of our household income than any other state in the country, by a long shot.
Average rent is more than 36 per cent of average household income here. That’s 5 per cent more than the next highest state.
Enter Labor’s Housing Affordability Future Fund, which promises to build 30,000 affordable homes over the next five years.
On paper, 30,000 sounds like heaps.But put it into perspective. That’s 30,000 across the country. We’re about 2 per cent of the national population. If homes go where people are, we get 600 new homes over five years.
Not much, right? Not when we have a social housing waitlist of more than 4,500. 600 isn’t enough. Our waiting list is building up quicker than those homes will.
It’s why, if the government needs me to vote for this bill, I’ll be asking them if they can sweeten the deal for Tasmania.
Guarantee Tasmania at least 1,200 homes. That’s double what we’d get if we left it to just population, but it reflects the growth in the problem facing our state.
If we don’t get more than our share of the population, our social housing waiting lists will continue to blow out.
Because right now, we aren’t getting on top of this problem: we’re applying bandaids to our bandaids.
In the year ending 2022, Tasmania’s social housing stock actually went backwards by 12 units. We need something that’s going to help us get on top of this. 600 won’t cut it.
The Housing Minister is Julie Collins. She’s the MP for Franklin. She’s a Tasmanian. I’m asking her to stick up for us.
I’ll back something that will make a difference. That’s what 1,200 homes would do.