20 June 2023, 13:44
Victorian Legislative Council, Melbourne

David ETTERSHANK (Western Metropolitan):

I rise to welcome the federal government’s proposed social housing accelerator, which should see Victoria receive an additional $500 million for social and affordable housing. In and of themselves these additional funds will not resolve the current critical shortage of public, social and affordable housing, but this is a welcome initiative. But as we all know, it is often wise to look a gift horse in the mouth, and Legalise Cannabis Victoria sees two critical issues. Firstly, in housing development the greatest challenge is getting suitable land. The Victorian government has literally hundreds of sites that can accommodate thousands of social and affordable households in the Melbourne statistical division. If I may paraphrase Mark Twain, they are not making land like that anymore, so do not just sell it. It is critical that the government prioritise the use of existing landholdings for housing before it is simply sold on the open market to reduce debt.

Secondly, the Commonwealth funding is apparently tied to ‘reforming’ planning laws. What this ‘reform’ means is far from clear, but if this is just code for mugging local councils and riding roughshod over communities, then I think there will be a hell of a fight. We need to make our planning laws and processes fit for purpose and their implementation much better. A long history of poor planning outcomes abundantly demonstrates this need. I look forward to elaborating on these themes in subsequent debates. We are in a housing crisis, and we need to get this right.


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