The Federal Liberal Government has overnight confirmed that Malcolm Turnbull is walking away from joint responsibility to tackle growing homelessness.
The Liberals’ new Treasury Laws Amendment (National Housing and Homelessness Agreement) Bill 2017 has been introduced without consultation with service providers, the states or territories.
Giving testimony at Senate Estimates hearings last night, Federal Treasury officials confirmed that the Turnbull Government had not sought feedback from the states nor had any conversations about the detail in the legislation.
Without consultation, Malcolm Turnbull is now proposing to lock in funding and service cuts, without even talking to the service organisations and states who deal with increasing numbers of people at risk of homelessness.
This legislation proposes new targets for the states while providing no extra funding to support housing and homelessness services.
It’s extraordinary for the Turnbull Government to propose expanding the scope of this agreement, shifting all responsibility on to the states, without any additional investment.
While not a surprise, this admission highlights the Turnbull Government’s continuing refusal to engage with the states in a consultative way, and failure to see homelessness as a national priority.
Once again, the Malcolm Turnbull has shown his failure to consult the states before announcing policy in areas of state responsibility – planning to introduce legislation on an agreement the day before Treasurers are scheduled to discuss it.
Just last week, the states wrote to the Treasurer outlining a way forward for the agreement as part of ongoing negotiations. In bypassing negotiations and putting this legislation straight into Parliament, the Turnbull Government is ignoring the need to work together at all levels of Government to address homelessness.
The Andrews Labor Government has invested $799 million into housing and homelessness in addition to $2.1 billion in financial backing to help Victorians rent, buy and build to support more people.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing Martin Foley
“This chaotic and punitive approach won’t produce any additional new homes and will only add to homelessness on our streets.”
“Malcolm Turnbull has proven yet again he has no interest in working with the states to address homelessness and would rather ram through legislation to lock in Tony Abbott’s cuts.”
“We call on Mr Turnbull to scrap this Bill and sit down with homelessness agencies and states to deliver more investment to tackle homelessness.”