Secure and comfortable housing is getting beyond the reach of most people. Yet a study released in April found that of all the major cities in Australia, Melbourne is the hardest city to live in for people living on Centrelink, benefits with the least affordable private rents.
Instead of building more homes, successive state governments have let the entire infrastructure decay. The Baillieu government is now handing it over to private operators, promoting this privatisation as “social housing.” In mid-2012, it issued Pathways to a fair and sustainable social housing system, a paper paving the way to the government’s privatisation plan. The government invited “consultation” through public submissions — which it is now refusing to publish!
Radical Women answers Baillieu. The government argues that its resources are “finite” and must therefore offload its responsibility. In its submission, Radical Women (RW) said this:
“Open the books. Governments use the myth of inadequate resources and public sector inefficiency to legitimise the privatisation of these services…Instead of concluding…that responsibility for public housing must be removed from government, we should be asking: where is the transparency and accountability to the public, and especially to the public tenants?…
The public purse is not for corporate welfare. Victoria’s public wealth must be used for the upgrading and expansion of public housing. And all privatised services must be returned to public hands.”
Another outcome of the Pathways paper is the demonisation of public tenants as anti- social bludgers. The government proposes to reduce public housing to “transitional” accommodation for everybody except people with severe disability or over 65 years of age.
“Public housing must be a choice, not a welfare safety net. And tenure must be guaranteed for as long as the tenant wants it — for life, if this is the tenant’s choice.”
RW’s recommendations are:
- Halt the privatisation — govern for the people, not the corporations
- End corporate welfare: no more taxpayer subsidies to business
- Expand public housing to meet the growing demand brought on by the economic crisis and government policies
- End the National Rental Affordability Scheme and put the money into public housing
- Return publicly funded services to public hands — reverse the privatisation of education, health, transport etc
- Legislate for tenants’ rights over landlords’ rights and everyone’s rights over speculators’ interests
- End negative gearing and property speculation — housing must not be a market commodity; no one should be allowed to own more than the home they live in
- Tax wealth — businesses and individuals — to expand the public wealth Increase the capital gains tax
Take action! To see the submissions of RW and Friends of Public Housing (FoPH), go to FoPH’s website: www.publichousingwatch.com/index.php/submissions- to-govt or contact RW: firstname.lastname@example.org For upcoming campaigning activities, contact FoPH: email@example.com or RW.