Question without Notice: Rental Support
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): My question is for the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation. Minister, many people who rent their home are still facing financial and housing insecurity due to the pandemic, yet the government has not provided any specific measures to support them during the latest two lockdowns. Minister, why are people who rent their home now being left behind in the government’s response to COVID?
Ms HORNE (Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation) I thank the member for his question. Obviously as we have continued to monitor the situation of people renting during the course of the pandemic, we have been responding to people that are of greatest need. One of the things that the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 did was put in place more than 130 protections for some of our most vulnerable people who are renting. These include an amendment to ensure that people who are renting cannot be evicted for no reason whatsoever. We will continue to work with stakeholder groups and continue to monitor the situation, but at the moment we have got more than 130 protection measures there for some of our most vulnerable people.
Mr HIBBINS (Prahran): We welcome the reforms in the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, but the reality is at the end of the day they do not protect you if you have lost income due to COVID and you cannot pay the rent, which is now unfortunately the case for many people who rent their homes. So I ask the minister: will the government now reintroduce the moratorium on evictions for renters who cannot pay the rent due to the pandemic and provide direct financial assistance so they are not left with massive rental debts?
Ms HORNE (Minister for Consumer Affairs,Gaming and Liquor Regulation): I thank the member for his supplementary question. In terms of supporting people who cannot pay their rent, this is a government that has acted swiftly to ensure that there is more than $400 million of the Victorian business support package to support businesses and protect jobs. On top of that there is a temporary COVID disaster payment for eligible renters where people can access up to $750 a week if they have lost more than 20 hours of work. But please rest assured that if we need to do more, we stand ready to do so.