Labor must address Gippsland housing crisis after Games debacle

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien says the cancellation of the Commonwealth Games is a debacle that betrays Gippslanders and regional Victoria and will hurt Victoria’s global reputation.

Mr O’Brien said the least the Andrews Labor Government can do now is deliver on social housing in Gippsland where it is really needed.

He said the Government must ensure the Wellington and South Gippsland Shires benefit from the newly announced $1 billion Regional Housing Fund in the wake of the Games decision.

“The Government’s previously announced $5 billion Big Housing Build program failed to deliver much to combat the growing homeless population across Gippsland South,” Mr O’Brien said.

“According to the Government’s own VicHomes website, the Big Housing Build program has delivered 4,152 new dwellings with 7,973 currently underway.

“That’s great for the areas that are actually receiving these dwellings, but only 65 of those were in the Wellington Shire and shockingly just an abysmal six have been built in the South Gippsland Shire!

“It is also worth noting that at least ten on the houses built in the Wellington Shire were replacements for homes that were decommissioned.”

Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown that homelessness or marginal homelessness (referring to those housed in non-stable living conditions such as couch-surfing, tents or transitional housing) increased between 2016 and 2021 by more than 24 per cent in the South Gippsland Shire and more than 43 percent in the Wellington Shire.

Mr O’Brien said more needed to be done to ensure that regional homelessness was receiving the same attention as in urban areas.

“It is deeply concerning to me that we are having to rely on a government that mis-judged the cost of hosting the 2026 Commonwealth Games by more than $3 billion to deliver affordable housing options to the people of Gippsland.

“I am regularly contacted by people who are struggling to find or keep a roof over their head, and it infuriates me when I see figures like this that suggest regional Victorians are not getting their fair share of support.

“I will be seeking advice from the Minister for Housing on exactly how many of the newly promised 1,300 homes will be located in Gippsland South.”

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