Published: 17 July 2018

Legislative Council Thursday 12 July, 2018

Ms  FORREST  (Murchison) - Mr President, I commend the Government for taking this action. It is an effective and clever solution to draft the bill by putting the Home Act into it and making it a less cumbersome bill. All power to the people in the planning department and the policy unit who worked on this legislation.

The information provided at the briefing and subsequently has been very helpful.This is an example of good consultation. I know Hobart City Council raised a number genuine and legitimate concerns that were all addressed, which is something we have not seen happening quite as often in recent times. I commend the minister's staff and advisers and the people who worked on this bill to achieve what is a very good outcome. A lot of work has been put into it; there has been a lot of listening and responding appropriately to the genuine and legitimate concerns raised. I acknowledge that because it is important.

The other information provided was the Q&A, which gives much detail. I would like the Leader to table that Q&A in her response because the work that has been done is important information which help members of the public understand how this legislation will work. Your advisers are on the job listening. This information is not necessarily captured and will not be easily accessible in the future if it is not tabled and made available. It helps when that level of attention is given to something. It is important. When we are talking about government-owned land being converted for another use, it is important it is done appropriately and correctly.

I looked through the site options documents and it appears they are being put into areas that are already predominantly surrounded by public housing. 

I looked at one of the ones in Burnie, in my part of the electorate. When UTAS moves to the West Park precinct, that area will not be used for UTAS activities. It is vacant land surrounded by public housing, but it has good accessible public transport. 

I assume the bus runs will still run even though UTAS is not there because Hellyer College, TAFE and Umina Park, an aged care facility, are still there, and Burnie Primary School is down the road. There are a number of facilities that warrant a reliable and consistent public transport service.

It is also not far from the hospital. It is close to schools, both primary and college levels. The high schools are a bit further away. In many respects, it is a well-located place to put in a mix of public housing. 

It borders one of our unfortunate areas which was one of those broadacre developments some years ago that has gradually changed over the years. Shorewell Park was a pretty tough area in parts. I remember door knocking there in 2005 and met some very interesting characters.

The mix there is changing and some people are purchasing their homes through a range of other options that governments past and present put in place to assist people into home ownership. All those things are important and positive.

I was impressed with the process in the bill of bringing forward the orders that will declare a parcel of land to be housing supply land. What I was particularly impressed about was that interested persons can make a submission to the Minister for Planning in relation to a proposed order and that when the order is tabled in parliament, the order will be tabled with all the submissions received - big tick - and it will be provided with the prepared responses to the issues raised - another big tick. This is setting a standard we should commend the Government for and hope we see replicated in other such orders that have a great degree of interest. Well done. That was a positive thing and one of the things I looked at when I saw it was going to be dis-allowable.

The work that has been done already indicates that even though a five day period is assured, as the member for Elwick talked about, all the information we will get with the order will make it much easier to scrutinise in a timely manner. In light of all that, five days is probably reasonable. At least it is two sitting weeks as opposed to three days.

Mr Willie - We agree on that point.

Ms  FORREST  - Yes, we agree. The other point I raised, which was covered in the briefing, is that any larger parcel of land being opened up for this sort of housing development needs to have a mix of housing. It needs to have adequate open space and green space. It needs to have bikeways, walkways and exercise areas, and to be accessible to services.

That is covered to some degree in the bill, but also through the planning process that councils will still undertake. Yes, they still have to go through a planning process but hopefully this legislation will expedite that. I was concerned it may not have been adequately covered, but I am confident that it has been.

I believe very few people choose to be homeless. It is not through their own actions people become homeless. Many of these people are women and children escaping family violence. They are living in cars, trying to keep safe. The most dangerous time for a woman subject to family violence is the time she decides to leave and in the time of leaving. If she has nowhere safe to go, her risk of being seriously injured or murdered is really high. That is a sad indictment on our community, but it is reality. Women do not choose this. They do not choose to be homeless.

There are also many people with mental health challenges and significant disability that make it very difficult for them to get employment. There are people who become unemployed through no fault of their own and are unable to secure employment, particularly some older people in our communities. They find it difficult to regain employment and find their savings are not enough. They have probably been in low-paid jobs in the past and find themselves homeless. Some are victims of gambling addictions. You might say it is their fault - no, it is not their fault when they are addicted. We need to help these people. To say we should not make it too easy - we do not. There are many hoops to jump through, there are many checks and balances, and not everybody can expect to receive public housing. 

In our civil society, we have a duty to ensure people's basic needs can be met, and one of your basic needs is shelter. The member for Elwick talked about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, and shelter is one need. If people do not have shelter, often they cannot even seek to be well educated; they cannot access good healthcare and services - they do not know how to at times. 

Mr Valentine - It is all too transient for them. 

Ms  FORREST  - That is right, yes. They are often chasing their tail trying to meet those very basic needs before they can think about attending an education facility for a length of time or their children attending an education facility. As the minister said in the briefing, this bill is part of a bigger picture. It is not just this, but it is an important part of it and he intends bringing in other legislation to give effect to some other changes, which is good. An omnibus bill. 

Mrs Hiscutt - A multifaceted - 

Ms  FORREST  - Yes, because we need to take a multifaceted approach. People find themselves homeless at times because of a whole range of other factors, and unless we address some of those, we will not fix this problem. 

Mr Willie - People need support in their tenancies, too, so they can be successful. 

Ms  FORREST  - That is right. 

Mr Willie - It is not only the houses; it is about the attached services in a lot of these instances. 

Ms  FORREST  - Yes. Access to justice, to legal advice and other support, such as looking after their children - help when they are struggling to look after their children. Unfortunately, some people really do struggle with the challenges parenting can bring and they need support. There is a whole range of reasons why people find themselves needing the support of a caring community, and provision of housing is one of those fundamental and basic things we can assist with. Many areas in my electorate are challenged in terms of high rates of socio-economic disadvantage. I say 'Braddon' because they do not look at Murchison specifically, but Murchison is a fair bit of Braddon, and is an electorate with one of the highest levels of socio-economic disadvantage in the country, second only to some of the Aboriginal communities and a couple of others.

For people in my electorate, these sorts of things are really important. I do commend the Government on taking this action. It was one of the things that came from the Housing Summit and there are more to come, but this is an important step and I support the bill.


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