Danny O’BRIEN (Gippsland South) (17:19): (189) My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Housing, and the action I seek is for the minister to explain why I keep getting reports and requests from my constituents about empty public housing in Gippsland. In the last six months or more in particular, I have been receiving reports semiregularly from people who are concerned that public housing is sitting vacant at a time when we have a significant waiting list for people looking for public housing and there is also pressure on our private housing sector, which of course is putting downward pressure on the public housing market. I have reports of vacant homes in Sale, Foster and Korumburra just in the last few months, and each time we have followed them up, there has been either a reason or an excuse from the department – initially the From Homelessness to a Home program undertaken by the previous minister. Regularly we get reports that a house has just been finished or has just been renovated and is now being tenanted, but these reports keep coming up. It is reasonable that there are times when there is changeover in tenants; when there is the death of a tenant, sadly; when there are repairs being undertaken; or of course when there is construction.
So some information that I would like to hear from the minister in his response is: what the current number of vacant homes in Gippsland is, what the current time period is that homes are vacant, what the current maintenance backlog is for public housing in Gippsland and indeed what the current waiting list is for the Gippsland region for people seeking public housing, because not only is it the people on the usual waiting list but of course there is the emergency waiting list. There has been a considerable increase in women fleeing family violence during the pandemic and since then women seeking assistance and really struggling to find somewhere to live. It is a concern for me that this is something I did not have reports on in the first seven or eight years of my career, but it has happened in the last 12 months consistently, and there does seem to be either a long period of time when homes are being left vacant or a bigger lag in the time for changeovers. When so many are in need of a house, leaving these homes vacant is criminal, and I would like the minister to give an explanation as to why this is occurring.