Francis Logan

Francis Logan

Minister for Energy; Resources; Industry and Enterprise

    Call for more rental assistance

    4/08/2005 12:00 AM

    Housing and Works Minister Francis Logan has called for more Commonwealth rental assistance for low-income earners in regional areas.

    Speaking after a joint meeting in Melbourne with Housing, Planning and Local Government Ministers from around the country, Mr Logan said he was disappointed that the Federal Government had shown so little regard for the unique plight of these people.

    The Minister said regional towns in Western Australia like Karratha, Port Hedland, Broome and Kalgoorlie were booming economies that could not attract low-income workers because of housing costs.

    “Workers like hairdressers, tyre fitters and shop assistants are critical if a town is to remain sustainable,” he said.

    “However, these people do not want to live in a town where they spend most of their income on housing costs.”

    Mr Logan, who attended the meeting with Local Government and Regional Development Minister John Bowler, said rents in the Karratha region were up between $650 and $800 a week. But under the Commonwealth Rent Assistance Scheme, the maximum assistance available was only $50 a week.

    “The assistance is completely insignificant,” Mr Logan said.

    “It will do nothing to attract people to these towns. Rental assistance should be regionalised to help low-income earners in country towns who face exorbitant rents.

    “Federal Family and Community Services Minister Senator Kay Patterson indicated that the Commonwealth’s rental scheme was under review. That review has already been going for a year and low-income earners in regional areas are still hurting.

    “The Gallop Government is committed to improving the quality of services to all Western Australians wherever they live and I will do all I can to convince the Federal Government to act.”

    The meeting agreed to develop a national affordable housing policy to ensure low-income earners were not locked out of the housing market.

    The Minister said work on the policy would begin immediately. It would be the first strategic and integrated vision for affordable housing in Australia.

    “All States have been working on their own affordable housing initiatives, but this policy will give us a united approach,” he said.

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