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25,000 Qld households in urgent need amid shelter shortage

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A parliamentary committee has heard there are 25,835 households on the Queensland social housing register – 80.5 per cent of them in ‘high or very high’ need.

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Opposition frontbencher Tim Mander used a Budget Estimates Committee hearing today to request the latest social housing figures, as of the end of June, and scrutinise efforts to provide more public housing.

But Mander was later ejected from the committee after accusing the government of providing out-of-date figures that downplayed the true scale of the problem.

Communities and Housing Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government had delivered a three per cent net increase in social housing properties since 2015 and continued to assist Queenslanders in need.

“When the Palaszczuk Government came to office in 2015, we had a net deficit of social housing properties as a result of LNP policies of the previous government,” Enoch said.

But Mander, a former Newman Government minister, said the increase in properties under Labor failed to keep pace with population growth, and threatened “the Queensland government’s ability to house our most vulnerable people”.

Mander also pointed to an increase in households on the register classified ‘high or very high’ need, suggesting it pre-dated the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The hearing descended into a debate around procedures and points of order within the first 30 minutes, as Mander sought to ascertain how much of the social housing budget was new funding. Mander directed his question to the department, and when Enoch instead responded, without answering, he said he was “not interested” in hearing from the minister.

Enoch said the government had exceeded its targets in delivering new social housing but the broader property market had been a challenge. She said “current market conditions are quite exceptional,” with vacancy rates of around one per cent in most areas.

Mander later accused the government of misrepresenting the figures on social housing demand. The Minister did not seek to clarify the issue and Mander was ejected from the hearing for an hour and told to raise any concerns with the Speaker.

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