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Housing: What Can We Do?

The Victorian State Labor government has embarked on a journey that will eventually result in the privatisation of public housing. Their strategy is based on the redevelopment of the public housing sector through private public partnerships that will see prime public residential land on which current public housing stands into freehold titles for developers who will build housing on that land. Of new housing built, 80% will be allocated to the private sector while 20% will be allocated to public housing. To rub salt into the wound of the current residents who will be evicted from their current public housing accommodation they are not guaranteed the right of return (although some have lived on these estates for decades) and will be forced to reapply for the right to access public housing on these new estates.

At the same time this is going on, the management of what’s left of public housing is rapidly being transferred to the community, social and affordable housing sector privately owned and run organisations (some for profit, others not for profit). Eventually if either the Labor or Liberal / National Party are elected at the end of 2018, public housing titles will be transferred to the community, social and affordable housing sector. The removal of public housing from the State’s housing mix will result (as we have seen as the public housing sector is slowly run into the ground) in increasing housing prices for first home buyers, increasing rents for the increasing number of Australians who are forced to rent and increasing homelessness, social dislocation and violence.

The current public housing campaign is based on protecting what exists. It is primarily a defensive campaign based on getting the message across to both the general community and public residents. It is also based on a campaign to get the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union to place bans on redevelopment sites (these bans will be hard to achieve because of the close links between the CFMEU and the Andrews led Labor government) and a campaign of civil disobedience that will result in activists morally and physically supporting public residents who refuse to be evicted. Although this defensive campaign has merits, we need to be making demands to extend public housing.

The Victorian State government raised six billion dollars from stamp duty (which is paid by people who purchase private property) during the last financial year. Instead of using this money for other purposes, every dollar raised should be used to build and manage public housing. Investing stamp duty revenue into public housing would allow the State government to spot purchase in the community or build up to 25,000 houses and units every year. Within a decade up to one million residents would be living in public housing.
Such a bold move by a future Victorian State government would not only solve the problem of homelessness, it would result in a fall in rents and a fall in housing prices for first home buyers. When activists began agitating for the right to vote, marriage equality or even the abolition of slavery they were pilloried and ignored, their campaigns were dismissed as impractical and utopian. In time these campaigns captured the public imagination and became part of everyday life. We need to go on the offensive in the current public housing debate and demand that every cent of stamp duty collected be automatically allocated to building, purchasing and managing a much needed public housing sector.

Defend And Extend Public Housing will be holding monthly rallies until the next State election in 2018 on the steps of the Victorian Parliament until Parliamentary representatives in the Victorian Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council consider policies that will ensure:
1. No more public titles will be transferred or sold to privately owned organisations.
2. Current and future governments will not enter into any more private public housing partnerships.
3. The management of public housing will not be transferred to privately owned organisations.
4. Public housing stocks are substantially increased.
Access to public housing is the glue that is the key to social cohesions.


All rallies will be held on a Wednesday from midday to 2:00pm on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House, Spring St Melbourne (hail, rain or shine)
• Wednesday 5th July
• Wednesday 9th August - Parliament sitting day
• Wednesday 6th September - Parliament sitting day
• Wednesday 18th October - Parliament sitting day
• Wednesday 1st November - Parliament sitting day
• Wednesday 13th December - Parliament sitting day

Dr. Joseph Toscano / Joint Convener Defend And Extend Public Housing