STUART GRIMLEY MP

Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Residential Tenancies, Housing and Social Services Regulation Amendment (Administration and Other Matters) Bill 2022

I rise to speak on the Residential Tenancies, Housing and Social Services Regulation Amendment (Administration and Other Matters) Bill 2022. This bill establishes some governance arrangements for the new agency, Homes Victoria, created to deliver the Big Housing Build. It transitions relevant existing functions for the big build from the director of housing, creating a new role of CEO. It will equip Homes Victoria with similar rights and powers to act as a property developer. Homes Victoria will manage the affordable housing scheme’s 2400 tenancies. The bill also establishes a new advisory board. The bill responds to concerns from public housing residents who are reluctant to make a complaint about an antisocial neighbour for fear of having their identity exposed. Residents will be able to lodge a community impact statement for VCAT to consider when an application is made to evict someone for their antisocial behaviour, and this is great news. People living on the public purse—but everyone, really—should respect their home and the neighbours around them. We have heard many stories of people trashing government-supplied housing and making neighbours’ lives a living hell, and this is just not good enough. The bill expands the definition of ‘common areas’ so that, for example, if a resident is trafficking drugs in the common area of a public housing estate, they may be subject to a notice to vacate. But the real reason I wanted to speak to this bill is to talk about the broader issue of social housing and my plans for a regional housing summit. Earlier this year I met with the then Minister for Regional Development, Mary-Anne Thomas, to discuss issues in regional Victoria. One discussion we had was about the housing issues plaguing my electorate of Western Victoria. I spoke of the interconnectedness of employment, economic development, population growth and the associated social issues. For example, if a young person cannot find a rental, jobs cannot be filled, they cannot stay in the rural or regional town and they cannot bring up their family there or have family support, and there are of course knock-on effects on industry as a result of this. In the meeting with Minister Thomas she asked me, ‘So what are some solutions to this housing problem?’. My honest answer was, ‘There are plenty of solutions, and the best people to answer your question are the councils, community groups and other stakeholders in regional Victoria’. That is why I proposed a regional housing summit. This is why I proposed a regional housing summit. This is where councils and other stakeholders would come together to share ideas and make recommendations to each other but also to the government on how to fix this massive problem. I have been promoting this regional housing summit for a long time now. I have raised it in Parliament on three occasions before today, and I raise it again because it is so important. As I said above, this is not just a housing problem, it is a jobs problem, a social problem, a regional development problem. The effects are so much bigger than just a housing problem. We need to invite all regional councils and stakeholders—for instance, the local chamber of commerce, social housing operators, local builders, tourism bodies and others—to meet together to talk about the problems and solutions and to share ideas. Each council area should not have to go this alone. We should be working together to fix this huge issue. My thanks go out to the 24 local councils in my electorate for working with me on these issues for the past four years, and I hope I have made some improvements and have advocated strongly on your behalf. Dr Tim Harrison, the CEO of Ararat Rural City Council, gets a particular shout-out as a leading voice for regional Victoria. He is proactively trying to fix the issues that plague these areas. He is a very intelligent, smart man. Once again I stand here saying that the regional housing summit needs to be committed to by both major parties before the election, and I hope we get such a commitment. I commend this bill to the house.

STUART GRIMLEY MP

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