Labor Opposition MP Nat Cook should be ashamed she is continuing a deliberate scare campaign targeting Housing SA tenants, spruiking false information and statements about Housing SA rents.
It is hypocritical that Ms Cook has labelled the State Government’s decision to gradually increase rent for about 3000 households “cruel” – yet she has remained silent on Housing SA rent increases that occurred in 2011 under the former Labor Government’s watch.
Ms Cook and Labor leader Peter Malinauskas continue to instil unnecessary fear on Housing SA tenants, by repeatedly, incorrectly stating “many low-income Housing Trust tenants (could face) rent hikes of up to $50 per week”.
A potential $50 a week increase is only for a person with a “moderate income” of $1000 per week and does not include people living in bedsits or cottage flats. Moderate income rent changes will not come into effect until 2021.
“Labor’s statements on Housing SA rent increases are hypocrisy at its best,” said Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink.
“In 2011, Labor immediately increased Housing SA rents from 17 to 19 per cent of income for tenants living in bedsits and from 19 to 21 per cent for those living in one-bedroom cottage flats, which back then equated to about $8.40 per week for a single pensioner.”
Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas told ABC radio Housing SA rents were “never increased” under Labor. Mr Malinauskas went on to state “not once … it (rent) was never increased”.
“It’s embarrassing Mr Malinauskas had no idea Housing SA rents increased under the former Labor Government and comes as no surprise that both the Labor Leader and Ms Cook have remained silent on Housing SA rent increases under Labor’s watch,” said Minister Lensink.
“Unlike Labor, the Liberal Government has been completely transparent in voicing the need to gradually increase rent for about 3000 households to bring those tenants up to the standard assessment rate of 25 per cent of household income, providing a fairer system.
“Also, of the approximate 35,000 Housing SA properties in the system, about 90 per cent of households already pay 25 per cent of their household income towards rent.
“Every affected tenant has already been advised of the changes by Housing SA to allow them to plan ahead.”
As highlighted in the 2018-19 State Budget, rents for about 3000 tenants living in bedsit accommodation and one-bedroom cottage flats will gradually increase from 19 and 21 per cent of accessible income to 25 per cent gradually over a period of years.
“Labor is being misleading in stating that rent will increase by ‘$50 per week’ and in the process, they have started a deliberate scare campaign,” said Minister Lensink.
Of the 3000 affected tenants, about half are aged pensioners, who receive on average an income of about $430/week.
Aged pensioners currently living in one-bedroom cottage flats will pay, on average, about $6.47/week extra rent for the first two years and $4.32/week in 2020. After three years, this equates to a total increase of $17.26, not $50 as claimed by Labor.
“The need to increase rents is, in part, due to the former Labor Government’s dismal management of the housing portfolio in South Australia,” said Minister Lensink.
“The Liberal Government has inherited 35,000 homes, many of which are run-down and in chronic condition, with backlog maintenance into the hundreds of millions of dollars after 16 years of complete mismanagement in this portfolio under Labor.
“The public housing system is not going to be fixed overnight and it is thanks to Labor that the system is in this position.
“This is why I announced the establishment of the SA Housing Authority – to hit the reset button on a broken system.”