ABC Radio Adelaide Breakfast – social housing policy, local vaccine manufacturing

Friday, 14 May 2021

ALI CLARKE, HOST: Amanda Rishworth is the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood and Youth. She’s the Labor MP for the southern suburbs seat of Kingston as well. Good morning. How does this social planning, or how would the social housing plan work? And if your government was or if the Opposition was – I can’t spit out my words out today, I’m sorry, I’m so excited about the gates story – if you were to win government. Thank you, got there.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: The idea is that we put together a $10 billion future fund. And what those types of funds do is they, with the Board of Guardians, invest in big investments, and using the dividends of that we’ve said we want to put into building 30,000 either social houses or affordable houses, as well as repair many of the social housing out there. So you wouldn’t be spending the money upfront, what you would using is the dividends from this future fund to actually start building these houses.

CLARKE: Obviously, this is something that could happen if you got there, and you’ve come up with the figure of 30,000. But have you developed this plan well enough to say “okay, but this percentage will be in South Australia”?

RISHWORTH: We’re still working on that, because what we need to do is work with State and Territory governments, as well as community housing who are doing a great job at delivering. My estimation is it would be in areas of need. There are two elements of it. Firstly, there’s the element of social housing, which would go to those with the greatest need. But there’s also 10,000 for affordable housing for our frontline workers, with the aim to get them built near where they work. So this, I think, an exciting program, but we would need to work with the States and Territories around where we can build these houses.

CLARKE: Simon Birmingham, who is the Federal Finance Minister, we’ve spoken to him a bit this week obviously with regards to the government’s budget, but he’s been quite critical of this plan. This is what he had to say in response – “Labor’s proposal will generate 1/6 of the number of houses that the Coalition’s HomeBuilder program is building and delivering across Australia, but many more times in the cost.” So are you worried that the big noble gesture within Anthony Albanese’s speech and platform is being touted as just not as good?

RISHWORTH: HomeBuilder gives money now, in the short term, to people that want to do a renovation or build a house. This is about a long term plan, this is about creating homes for, for example, 4,000 for women and children escaping domestic violence. Many women and children getting domestic violence haven’t been able to get HomeBuilder. HomeBuilder ends, this is a long term plan to generate income to build housing. And I find it odd that Simon Birmingham would be criticising it, because of course what we are looking at is the current way other future funds are run. This is set up very similar to the New South Wales Government scheme. And we think this is the right long and medium term plan, because you can’t just give up next year and say “Oh well, now the job’s done, we’ve helped people do an extension” without a long term plan to build houses in this country.

CLARKE: Okay, well you just said long term plan four times and medium term plan once, how soon after the election could people actually move into these houses then should Labor win government?

RISHWORTH: Well, of course, this is part of our wide ranging housing plan. But we’ve got to set up the fund and we’ve got to achieve dividends to actually build houses. This is a five year plan in which we would want to see the houses built.

CLARKE: Okay, so essentially, this aspect of it, again as noble as it might seem, might happen if you get into government and it will take five years?

RISHWORTH: If we get into government – and we hope that, but that’s up to the people – but it is over the first five years. So we’ll be building those over the first five years. But this is not about a short term plan, this isn’t about next week, in a couple of weeks time. We know that this will be a continuing problem over the short, medium and long term. I mean the government’s HomeBuilder doesn’t go forever, it will finish very shortly. Well it is finished, actually, we’ve got lots of people complaining that they are no longer able to access that. The government is offering nothing –

CLARKE: But you’re not even offering them anything until five years, even if you get in.

RISHWORTH: No, not in five years, it will be done by five years. We’ve got to get in first, I mean I could promise you tomorrow, but we’re not elected. This is the choice at the next election.

CLARKE: I understand that. But you seem to be attacking the current government on the basis that HomeBuilder and things have finished now. Now that we’re in an election year, there’s less than 12 months until you might be put back in, whatever it might be. But from the sounds of this, this big part of Anthony Albanese’s reply speech last night, won’t actually come to fruition and people won’t be moving in until maybe five years?

RISHWORTH: It will be it will be done within five years, that’s our plan. But there are going to be two plans on the table. There’ll be our plan, what’s the government’s plan? HomeBuilder is finished. What’s the government planning to do? They’ve got no plan around social and affordable housing. It takes time to build a house, but we are committed to raising the funds to build 30,000 social and affordable houses, to ensure that people can access housing. The government’s got zero plan when it comes to this.

CLARKE: Okay, it does take time to build a house. And increasingly, we’re hearing and seeing stories of shortages in skilled work, shortages in timber for example. Anyone looking for any sort of tradie at the moment will tell you how hard it is to get someone. Can you make sure that if this was to go ahead, that your government can manage all of those aspects, given the uncertainty around COVID-19 and how that has put a little bit of pressure on those supples for example?

RISHWORTH: Well, as I said, it will start and will be staged over a five year period. That’s partly to ensure that we can deliver this program. It will create 20,000 jobs. But we are confident with all our discussions with stakeholders, confident with the sector, confident with the modelling we’ve done, that this absolutely can be delivered.

CLARKE: Looking into the future, we understand that the government will be calling for tenders for a vaccine production hub for domestic COVID-19 vaccine production. What, if anything, are South Australian Labor Senators and Labor politicians doing to try to get that work to be here in our State?

RISHWORTH: Of course I would love that work to be in our State. I’m not confident the Federal Government is going to be able to deliver it to Australia full stop. I’m concerned they’ve been so lacklustre in actually trying to pursue this type of technology, they should have done it much earlier. But if we can get that manufacturing, of course certainly I will be lobbying, as many others will be. But it needs State Governments to stand up and be a willing partner, and I think that’s what we need to see from the Sate Government and Steven Marshall, a willingness to put money on the table. Victoria has already done that and put a commitment on the table about that type of manufacturing.

CLARKE: Okay, Amanda Rishworth, Shadow Minister for Early Childhood and Youth, also Labor MP for the southern suburbs seat of Kingston. Thank you.

ENDS

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