Michael Danby MHR

Tel: (03) 9534 8126
Fax: (03) 9534 1575

117 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda VIC 3182

PO Box 2086
St Kilda West 3182

ADJOURNMENT: Melbourne Ports Electorate: Housing
Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (10.54 a.m.) —
Melbourne Ports is one of the more diverse electorates in Victoria. It has residents living on age pensions, single parent pensions and low incomes as well as high income earners of all types. The gentrification of the population in our area has seen the private rental market skyrocket. Private rents can absorb between 40 and 105 per cent of income of a range of low to average income households. Blocks of rental flats and apartments, comprising 15 per cent of Melbourne's flats, are projected to be subdivided and strata titled by 2008. The area's rooming houses, which comprise approximately 20 per cent of Victoria's rooming houses, are being redeveloped at a rate of 10 per cent a year. These trends will only increase in our electorate in a booming, competitive inner urban and bayside housing market where, apart from Homebush, we have the biggest housing development—Beacon Cove. This will lock out low income earners who have lived in the area all of their lives.

St Kilda is famous for having had in the 1950s some 600 rooming houses. Today there are just 63, but this number still involves approximately 1,400 people in my electorate. The St Kilda Housing Association is a very impressive local organisation, which, out of its own rental income, is building new accommodation that houses some 370 residents. I recently visited with association members all of their properties in the St Kilda area. They are doing a fantastic job in housing people on low incomes. But, even with their judicious reinvestment of rentals, they are financially unable to cover some 900 people who register, sometimes indefinitely, for a place with them. For some of these 900 people and for 105,000 people across the country, their only option may be living on the streets because they cannot even find crisis accommodation.

Despite these figures, the federal government's budget delivers no new initiatives to tackle the growing housing shortage around the country and in my electorate. Instead, we just heap another flat tax on these low income earners. Residents of rooming houses and caravan parks, who are often in the lowest income bracket, are the only people who are required to pay the GST up-front on their rent. Similarly, pensioners, who also make up a huge percentage of those seeking low rental housing, will be affected by this new flat tax, since the government's own budget papers reveal that prices will increase around 6.75 per cent—yet pensioners will only receive a four per cent increase in the pension.

The government's compensation to first home buyers may be worth while but, in my view, it does seem a little out of kilter. This non-means tested scheme will mean that a person buying a $1 million house will receive $7,000 in assistance, whereas those in rooming houses and caravan parks will have to pay the GST on their rents. The member for Grayndler has very ably pointed out the effect that the GST will have on people all around Australia who are living in caravan parks. I am sure there are many members opposite who are paying attention to his remarks because of the effect that will have on residents in their own electorates. In my electorate, the same effect is being felt by the poorest elements of the population who are living in rooming houses. The iniquitous effect of this budget and the GST will be felt hardest by them.


Authorised by Michael Danby 117 Fitzroy Street St Kilda VIC 3182