Questions Without Notice - Social housing advocacy and support program

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My question is to the — —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Prahran is entitled to silence. All members will allow the member to ask a question in silence.

Mr HIBBINS — Thank you, Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing and is regarding the social housing advocacy and support program (SHASP), which works to prevent evictions in public housing by providing early intervention tenancy support. This program was subject to a funding cut under the previous government, and data obtained by the Greens shows there was a significant increase in evictions following these cuts. I ask the minister why the government has chosen not to restore funding to this effective service supporting public housing tenants to avoid eviction.

Mr FOLEY (Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing) — I thank the honourable member for his question because, as he rightly points out, what we saw under the previous government were record cuts to social and public housing in this state. There is by no better source than the recent Royal Commission into Family Violence when it identified that social and public housing had over $300 million ripped out of it by those opposite, and that man there is responsible — \

- Honourable members interjecting.

Mr GUY — On a point of order, Speaker, on a point of relevance, I think it was a pretty straightforward question to answer. I thought I would raise a point of order simply because the member for Albert Park was shaking so much I thought he was going to trip over. I thought I would just give him the chance to recover given that he is shaking so badly; I am not sure he can stand clearly.

- Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER — Order! The Chair reminds the Leader of the Opposition about taking frivolous points of order. The Chair does not uphold the point of order. The minister, to continue. Mr FOLEY — The Leader of the Opposition reveals himself to be a little man in every respect.

- Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The minister will resume his seat. Mr Burgess interjected.

Questions and statements interrupted.

SUSPENSION OF MEMBER Member for Hastings

The SPEAKER — Order!

The member for Hastings will withdraw himself from the house for a period of 1 hour.

Honourable member for Hastings withdrew from chamber.

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE and MINISTERS STATEMENTS

Social housing advocacy and support program Questions and statements resumed.

The SPEAKER — Order! The Chair warns the Leader of the Opposition again. The Chair would rather not order the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw from the house. I now request the Leader of the Opposition to desist and to respect the rules of the house. The rules of the house also apply to the Leader of the House. The minister to continue, in silence.

Mr FOLEY (Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing) — As I was indicating in response to the member for Prahran’s question, as he correctly identified in his question, what we saw under the previous government was a record cut in public and social housing to the point where, for the first time in Victoria’s history, we saw a net reduction —

Mr GIDLEY — On a point of order, Speaker, I refer you to Rulings from the Chair 1920–2015, page 165, that attacks on the opposition are inappropriate in question time. If this besieged minister does not have any solutions to Victoria’s housing problems, he should sit down and stop wasting the Parliament’s time by attacking the opposition and breaching the forms of this house.

Mr FOLEY — On the point of order, Speaker, my answer was precisely in keeping with standing orders, because the honourable member for Prahran in his question specifically identified cuts delivered to SHASP by the former government. Cuts overseen by former minister Wendy Lovell in the other place for the first time saw a net reduction in social housing units in this state. That is Wendy Lovell’s legacy to the people of Victoria and the public tenants of Victoria. My answer is perfectly in keeping with the question and the standing orders.

Mr HIBBINS — On the point of order, Speaker, while I did refer to previous government cuts in my question, the substantive part of the question was why the government was not funding the service. I think the minister has given 2 minutes of background, and it would be reasonable for him to be asked to go back to the substance of the question, which is about why the government is not funding this program.

The SPEAKER — Order! The minister was entitled to refer to previous government administration methods, but the Chair now upholds the point of order as put by the member for Prahran and requests that the minister comes back to answering the question as put by the member.

Mr FOLEY — As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, this government, having inherited such a mess in public and social housing, now has a record investment on the back of the family violence royal commission. A half billion dollar commitment to deliver in this space a housing blitz fully funded for the next two years has been set out in this budget as an initial down payment by this government. That will provide a net increase not only in social housing units but a thorough, wide program to make sure that we have head lease arrangements in place and that we have support for social housing groups so that those most vulnerable of Victorians, who those opposite abandoned, are cared for in their most vulnerable times, particularly those families and children fleeing family violence. Supplementary question

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My supplementary question is: if the government will not restore funding to this critical service that prevents homelessness, how will the government support people with at-risk tenancies in public housing, in community housing and also in the private rental market?

Mr FOLEY (Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing) — I thank the member for Prahran for his supplementary question because it gives me the opportunity to further explain to the house the fully funded, immediate down payment, two-year response that this government has delivered in the context of the invitation from the Royal Commission into Family Violence to deal with the most pressing issues around social and community housing. We have, in our initial response to that family violence royal commission, indicated a raft of capital and program changes that will, through the social housing unit —

Mr HIBBINS — On a point of order, Speaker, I appreciate the minister is giving a broad answer about housing programs, but the question was specifically about high-risk tenancies and keeping people in those tenancies, so I ask that the minister be brought back to the actual specifics of the question.

The SPEAKER — Order! The Chair does not uphold the point of order. The minister was being responsive. Whilst the minister may not have delivered what the member for Prahran wanted, the Chair is unable to direct him to respond in a very specific way. The minister, to continue.

Mr FOLEY — As I was indicating before I was so rudely interrupted, what those opposite and the member for Prahran fail to appreciate is that the range of —

— Honourable members interjecting. Questions and statements interrupted.

SUSPENSION OF MEMBERS Members for Malvern and Ferntree Gully

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Malvern and the member for Ferntree Gully will withdraw from the house for a period of 1 hour. Honourable members for Malvern and Ferntree Gully withdrew from chamber.

QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE and MINISTERS STATEMENTS

Social housing advocacy and support program Supplementary question Questions and statements resumed.

Mr FOLEY (Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing) — Unlike those opposite, who after 521 days of opposition have yet to actually ask a question in this important area, I thank the member for Prahran for his interest in this area. This government is committed to protecting all public housing tenants.