Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — Victoria faces a housing crisis with over 33 000 people on the waiting list for public housing and with emergency housing services operating above their capacity. The crisis needs urgent government action, and I was disappointed to see virtually no new money for public housing in this year's budget. I am also disappointed that the government seems to have no plans for significantly increasing public housing stock and has refused to answer questions on whether it still plans to transfer 12 000 public housing units to the private sector, as was the previous government's plan.
The crisis needs big investment and big changes in housing policy; however, there are also some immediate opportunities to act. All currently empty properties acquired for the doomed east–west link toll road should be immediately given to public housing, as the Premier himself has suggested. At least 30 properties in the Evo building in my electorate are lying empty. The Huttonham estate in Preston, which could host at least 300 dwellings, has lain undeveloped for more than four years. I urge the government to immediately act on these opportunities.
I also recognise the work of those fighting for better housing in Victoria. Fiona Ross and the Friends of Public Housing Victoria are tireless advocates for public housing tenants. Crisis accommodation services like MacAuley House in my electorate provide support to people at their most vulnerable, which is often to women and children with incredibly limited resources escaping family violence. The Council to Homeless Persons and the Housing for the Aged Action Group advocate to bring this issue into the spotlight when governments would rather turn away from the challenge. To these and to the many more individuals and organisations dedicated to improving the lives of people who are homeless or in housing stress across Victoria, I say thank you.