The new assistant minister responsible for reducing homelessness in Australia believes it is important to put “a positive spin” on the social and economic issue.
- New Assistant Minister for Homelessness Luke Howarth argued in an interview there was no housing crisis
- He claims homelessness is not growing as quickly as population growth
- Senator Jacquie Lambie claims she has a “good faith” agreement with the Government that it will address homelessness
Luke Howarth has been appointed Assistant Minister for Community Housing, Homelessness and Community in the Morrison Government and will hold his first meeting with Lord Mayors today to discuss the problem.
Last year, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found homelessness in Australia had increased by 14 per cent over a five-year period, with 116,427 thought to have no permanent home.
“I want to put a positive spin on it as well and not just say Australia is in a housing crisis when it affects a very, very small percentage of the population,” Mr Howarth told Radio National.
“I am stating the facts and I think that it is important … that parts of homelessness have reduced over that 15-year period.”
Over the past five years, the rate of homelessness has increased from 47.6 people per 10,000 Australians in 2011, to 49.8 people in 2016, according to the ABS.
Focusing on the ‘good news’
Mr Howarth conceded the overall number of homeless people had grown, but said the increase was lower than population growth thanks to government and community initiatives.
“There are a number of areas and we are focusing on all of them, but people on the street is important because that is what Australians see if they are in a capital city like Sydney, Brisbane or Melbourne,” Mr Howarth said.
“When they see people on the street they want something done about that.
“The good news is over that 15-year period it has reduced, if it has spiked in the last few years … I want to do everything I can to see that number come back down.”
Social housing and homelessness will need to be addressed by the Federal Government to honour a deal struck with Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie.
Senator Lambie supported the Coalition’s personal income tax cuts in the Senate earlier this month provided it waived Tasmania’s social housing debt.
No specific deal was outlined, but Senator Lambie said she had a “good faith” agreement with senior ministers.