Commonwealth wipes Tasmania’s housing debt
11 September 2019 at 5:31 pm
Tasmania is set to redirect $230 million into improving the supply of housing and reducing homelessness after the Morrison government waived the state’s housing-related Commonwealth debt.
Minister for Housing Michael Sukkar last weekend announced that Tasmania’s outstanding loans to the Commonwealth, worth $157.6 million, will be waived due to the state’s unique challenges with housing affordability and homelessness.
Including total interest and principal repayments, the Tasmanian government will save $230.2 million – and is required to redirect this money into programs that improve the state’s housing supply, reduce homelessness, and increase social housing,
Sukkar said the federal and Tasmanian governments had worked hand in hand to support the housing ambitions of the state.
“This of course builds on our existing commitment to housing and homelessness through the Hobart City Deal, the Launceston City Deal and $34 million of funding for Tasmania under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement,” Sukkar said.
Tasmanian Minister for Housing Roger Jaensch said wiping this debt would save up to $15 million a year in debt and interest payments, allowing for more social housing to be built for Tasmanians in need.
“We estimate this could mean around 80 more houses for people on the social housing waiting list across Tasmania, each year,” Jaensch said.
He said this complemented the state’s Affordable Housing Strategy – which includes an investment of almost $200 million over eight years – which is Tasmania’s largest ever investment into affordable housing.
Shelter Tasmania welcomed the Commonwealth decision to wipe Tasmania’s housing debt – a move the organisation has lobbied for over the past 15 years.
But in a statement, the group said it would like to see transparent and accountable reporting to ensure the additional $15 million a year goes directly into new supply of social housing.
“All the evidence shows that affordable community and public housing provides the best pathway out of homelessness and housing stress, so we hope to see a great boost to the Tasmanian community housing sector,” the statement said.
“We know our community housing members will be making excellent plans to optimise building quality homes that meet people’s needs and remain affordable.”
Shelter Tasmania said it and its members looked forward to working with the state government on how to maximise this opportunity to supply more homes to Tasmanians.