The fifth hearing of the year-long Senate inquiry into the extent and nature of poverty in Australia was held today in Lismore.
Almost a year since the devastating floods in Lismore, the committee heard from locals about the ongoing impact on their communities, and how they feel they’ve been left in the lurch by governments at both the state and federal level.
Greens spokesperson for social services and Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee, Senator Janet Rice said:
“Hundreds of people are still living in pod villages and there's still a huge number of people in temporary accommodation, couch surfing, and living in cars.
“We heard evidence that rents in some areas have tripled since the floods, and it now costs the same to rent a room in a sharehouse in Lismore as it does in Sydney.
“We are seeing the housing crisis get worse across the country, and it’s being exacerbated in places like Lismore that are being hit by climate disasters and completely inadequate government support to help communities rebuild.
“We heard the same thing in Lismore as we’ve been hearing at every poverty inquiry hearing to date: people are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and they need help to make it through this cost of living crisis.
“Between low wages, no affordable housing, and starvation-payments of about $47 a day for people on JobSeeker, communities across the country are facing dire financial circumstances.
“Labor has a housing bill before the Senate that will make the housing crisis worse. The Treasurer is planning to give $254 billion in Stage 3 tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires, while refusing to raise welfare above the poverty line for the people who need it most. Labor say they're on the side of struggling Australians - it's time they show it.
“That's why the Greens are pushing Labor to invest $5 billion a year in public and affordable housing, and raise income support to $88 a day in May's Budget.”
Greens candidate for Lismore, Adam Guise said:
“Over three thousand homes in the Lismore LGA alone were impacted by the 2022 floods, with thousands of people still displaced and homeless. People are living in tents, caravans or in the gutted shells of their houses.
“Rents have skyrocketed and people who have lost jobs since the flood are struggling to pay the bills.
“The government needs to urgently address this humanitarian crisis by acquiring land to build social, affordable and public housing.
“Leaving it to the free market to fix the housing crisis will not solve the problem. It will entrench further inequality and see people forced out of our community.
“The government needs to make affordable land available to flood impacted residents and businesses in order to enable landswaps, house relocations and affordable homes.
“Providing safe homes for people is about keeping our community together.