No help for battlers
With a surplus of $4.5 billion this year, $500 million higher than forecast, the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW is disappointed very little was allocated to where the need is greatest – breaking the affordable housing gridlock facing the state.
Yes there’s more for rail, roads, schools and hospitals, which is welcome news, but the homeless and voiceless seem to have been forgotten yet again.
The government will spend just 1.6 per cent of its expenditure on housing and community amenities in 2017-18. Tonight people will be sleeping rough, in their car, at friends or at one of our crisis accommodation facilities, until they manage to find a permanent place to live in a state that has become unaffordable. Yet as this budget proves, our state is incredibly rich.
We maintain a triple-A credit rating. But the pursuit of credit ratings cannot be put over the right to home for the estimated 190,000 lower income private renter households in NSW in housing stress.
On the first day of her premiership Gladys Berejiklian announced her commitment to combating the housing crisis, saying it was the biggest issue facing us as a state. But in the budget, other than relief for some first-time buyers, there is nothing on the ledger for those people who are paying up to 70 per cent of their income on rent and who face homelessness.
The government’s own estimates tell us we need an additional 25,000 social housing properties over 10 years to simply maintain the level of social housing – investment this year and each year is essential.
The further sale of public assets, including the electricity network infrastructure and windfall from land taxes, has generated billions, but the government is doing little to help people pay their ballooning power bills and housing need. The announcement of an additional $20.4 million over four years to support Homelessness Strategy initiatives, providing an additional 120 transitional accommodation units and support packages for rough sleepers is welcome. The next step for the surplus is social and affordable housing.
This budget is not the blueprint required for a long-term, financially sound social and affordable housing sector able to deliver safe, accessible and high-quality housing for the poorest. We believe adequate provision of housing is the foundation of a just society.
Jack de Groot, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society NSW
Not all about Cathy
I write in response to the letter “Our MP made it happen” (The Border Mail, June 21). The writer Mark Eltringham seems to be unaware that a number of our federal senators have been working to overcome the problems with the North East rail service at the same time as Cathy McGowan.
A forum held at Benalla on February 18 was attended by federal Senators Fifield, Paterson, Hume and Ryan and attendees took the opportunity to raise the issue of the rail line and to gain support from the senators to initiate corrective action. Senators Hume, Paterson and Ryan indicated their intention to pursue the matter and now have reported the successful provision of $100 million in the federal budget to carry out the remedial work required on the track.
The information that Mr Elltringham received from Senator Hume, Senator for Victoria, was acknowledgement of the success achieved by the senators, working alongside Cathy McGowan.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation is a federal government body that leases the section of rail from the Victorian government and is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the line. They now have the funds required to engage experienced railway engineers to upgrade the line to achieve safe, reliable and efficient rail services between Albury and Melbourne.
The successful outcome that has been achieved is a result of the collective action of our federal politicians