Victorian Socialists condemn public housing “privatisation by stealth”

Victorian Socialists

Victorian Socialists are immensely disappointed to see City of Melbourne councillors give unanimous support to the state government’s widely criticised Public Housing Renewal Program. The disastrous, ill-timed scheme will see a dramatic reduction in public housing capacity at affected sites, the sale of public land to private interests and the transfer of public housing to the community housing sector. 

While it’s no surprise that the motion to endorse the program was moved by Cr Nicholas Reece – an ALP member running alongside former Property Council CEO Sally Capp – we are particularly disappointed to see it seconded by Greens councillor Rohan Leppert. 

Victorian Socialists’ City of Melbourne candidates gave their second preferences to Greens following a discussion in which they assured us they opposed the state government’s plan to reduce public housing in inner-city Melbourne. 

“If elected, Victorian Socialists will refuse to lend our endorsement to the selling off of public land and assets,” says Lord Mayoral candidate Kath Larkin. “Instead we will stand with public housing residents and their neighbours in fighting every neoliberal attack.” 

Under the plan, around 1,000 existing public dwellings will be knocked down and the land cleared at the government’s expense, reducing public-housing capacity at targeted sites by about a third. 

The bulk of the land – wholly public and acquired specifically for public housing – will be handed over to private developers to rebuild, with only a fraction of new dwellings to be designated as social housing. This is not genuinely public housing – tenants will have fewer rights and protections that come with public housing, such as maintaining rent at no more than 25% of household income. 

“This program comes at a time when Victoria’s already out-of-control public housing waitlist is set to grow, with high numbers of Victorians experiencing housing stress,” says Chris di Pasquale, Victorian Socialists’ lead candidate for Melbourne City Council. 

“More than 60,000 languish on the public housing waitlist, yet what is the Labor government’s solution? The so-called Public Housing Renewal Program. This euphemism is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on public housing, selling off people’s homes to private developers. 

“Victorian Socialists pledge to fight the Labor party on its ‘renewal’ program and call it out for what it is – privatisation by stealth. We stand with public housing tenants and workers in their campaign to fix the existing stock, build more public housing in the city, not less, and we pledge to fight developer greed. 

“Where they see dollar signs, we see human lives.”

Victorian Socialists are campaigning for the following: 

  • The confiscation of empty dwellings from greedy landlords;
  • To clear the 100,000-strong public housing waiting list;
  • To build 30,000 new housing units in three years, 50,000 in five years, and 100,000 within eight years;
  • Mandatory inclusionary zoning, so that all new developments comprise at least 20% low-cost public housing units;
  • To provide a massive increase in resources for repairs to public housing, so residents aren’t forced to fight for basic upkeep;

● To give public housing residents a voice on council through an independent advisory body.

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