Premier's Speech - Homes for Queenslanders
Published Tuesday, 06 February, 2024 at 01:36 PM
The Honourable Steven Miles
It’s been just 2 months since I became Queensland’s new premier.
On that first day, I said I would deliver a fresh approach to the challenges we face, and the opportunities we have.
I said I would work every single day for Queenslanders.
I started with cost-of-living measures like freezing rego and public transport costs, … delivering homes for vulnerable Queenslanders, … and, my first funding decision, getting a police helicopter for Townsville.
We’ve done a lot in those 2 months.
All Queenslanders have.
In just that time, Queenslanders have already faced 3 natural disasters – Tropical Cyclone Jasper and the subsequent flooding event.
The SEQ storms Christmas night, and TC Kirrily – with it’s impacts on Townsville, Western Queensland and Moreton Bay.
And together, we’ve handled them with the same strength and courage Queenslanders are known for.
Queenslanders like Bill, who with his wife, climbed on to their roof and then into a tree and tied themselves to a branch the night the flood rushed through Degarra.
Billy got one of the first caravans we delivered to Ayton.
Queenslanders like Danny, who lost his house in the flood, but also got bitten by a 4 meter crocodile that ate his dog earlier in the year.
He apologised for getting worked up – as he said, he’d had a bad year.
Queenslanders like Tammy, a nurse at the Gold Coast university hospital whose house was in the hardest hit part of the Gold Coast on Christmas night.
She was on shift while the storm smashed her place.
Queenslanders like Myles here - trapped with the whole town of cape tribulation for weeks.
But that didn’t dull his little smile. He wanted to meet me because we have the same name.
And all the Queenslanders who rushed to support people affected by these natural disasters.
All those volunteers and public servants, council workers and defence personnel did us proud.
That's what our communities expect of each other, … and it's what they expect of us.
In between disasters, we’ve been working hard to address the things Queenslanders are concerned about.
When I first spoke to Queenslanders as Premier, I said the most important thing a government can do is deliver inter-generational prosperity.
That’s just shorthand for saying that Government should help parents give their kids more opportunities than they had.
Good, secure, affordable housing is the most important foundation to make that happen.
No matter how hard they work, it’s next to impossible for parents to give their kids those opportunities if they’re constantly moving house, changing school, … or worse still, couch surfing or sleeping rough.
Labor governments are about opportunity.
And there is no opportunity without housing.
It doesn’t matter how good the school is.
If a student is worried about where they’re sleeping that night, they aren’t going to learn.
They will fall behind, and probably start misbehaving.
When a family has to keep moving because the rent’s constantly going up, we’re not giving young Queenslanders the best start in life.
Secure housing played a crucial role in my own journey.
When I think about the three generations of my family, I can see I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for housing - and the kinds of housing policies Labor governments deliver.
Not a lot of people know it, but my mother’s family experienced homelessness.
My nan and pop spent much of their life in housing commission - we had Christmas lunch with our cousins every year in a housing commission house in Taigum.
On my dad’s side, my grandma and grandad bought a house in Wavell Heights with a 50 year loan the year my dad was born.
I saw my grandma the day she went to the Commonwealth Bank to make the last repayment, 50 years later. She was so proud.
My own parents scraped together the money to buy a quarter acre block in Petrie.
It was tough for them.
Dad sold his boat and took all the overtime he could get at the cannery.
Mum found ways to earn a bit of extra money - including arranging flowers for weddings.
Then, with a bit of help from friends, they built their own house on that block.
Dad would sleep in the unfinished house to get more work done even after a long day on the factory floor.
It was one of the first houses in a new estate …. and over the years, we watched as the estate filled, with families a lot like ours.
Petrie State School was across the road - an easy walk for my sister Kate and me.
And the train station was just down the street.
There’s a university campus there now too, but that’s another story for another speech.
When I bought my first house, in Alderley, I had managed to save a deposit but it wasn’t enough to avoid mortgage insurance.
Luckily, my parents were able to be guarantor, saving me thousands.
I was hugely grateful. But also so very relieved when the bank said I could take them off the loan.
Now Kim and I own our place at Mango Hill - on a 400 square block – and like where I grew up - close to the school and train station.
It’s not a fancy mansion.
But it’s our family home.
It’s full of memories that are special to us.
All Queenslanders deserve the same…somewhere to call home.
And making that a little easier is a priority for me as your Premier.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Housing affordability and supply has emerged as a challenge across the world.
From high inflation driven by a rebounding global economy after the pandemic…
…through to the impacts of the invasion of Ukraine and the re-emergence of war in the middle east.
These things have driven up the cost of construction materials everywhere.
As part of the response, reserve banks have hiked up interest rates.
In Australia, we’ve seen interest rates increase thirteen times since May 2022.
That’s the biggest increase in the shortest period in 40 years.
And it’s all come at a time when our jobs market has taken off.
Since Labor came to government, our economy has created more jobs on average than at any point since ABS records began.
Unemployment has hit the lowest rates on record.
The strength of our economy has led to record numbers of people moving to Queensland.
133,000 people moved here from interstate since 2020.
That’s the largest movement of people within Australia to Queensland since the 1990s.
And since international borders reopened, 115,000 people have moved here from overseas…
… the biggest movement since ABS records began.
We can all be proud of creating a place that’s so attractive.
But that appeal brings challenges too.
Unlike previous periods of mass migration, many of the people moving here are either coming for study or are already university educated.
So these new Queenslanders aren’t people taking up the tools to build new houses.
Across the country there is now a shortage of full-time construction workers.
It's an issue that I’ve raised with the Prime Minister. And he and I are working together on solutions.
Queensland’s population has grown by nearly 330,000 people since 2020.
That’s equivalent to adding another Townsville and Rockhampton to our state in just three and a half years.
All these people need access - not just to housing - but to hospitals, roads, energy infrastructure, transport and schools.
That’s why we’re delivering Queensland’s Big Build.
Delivering the largest infrastructure program in Queensland’s history.
The rate of new homes has increased since 2015 by 1,895 per quarter.
Over 333,000 new homes have been built in that time.
And yet despite this, houses have not been built fast enough to keep up with the record numbers of people moving here.
IMPACTS ON QUEENSLANDERS:
All the global conditions I’ve outlined are impacting our lives.
Because Queenslanders are struggling with higher rents and struggling to find the higher amounts of money needed to buy a home.
Like the one in three Queenslanders who are renting.
Or the Queenslanders who are now competing with vacancy rates below 1 per cent in many parts of the State.
The Queenslanders who own a home but are battling higher interest rates.
I want every Queenslander to know that I’m listening, …. I get it, and I’m on their side.
There are too many Queensland kids without access to a home.
That there are children sleeping in cars is heartbreaking.
I’ve seen kids getting dressed into their school uniform at my local shopping centre toilets.
Recently, we heard about families living in sheds without running water.
And just a few blocks from where we are today there are tents on the banks of the Brisbane River.
Providing the help needed is complex.
My government’s priority is to offer every Queenslander safe shelter.
Last financial year over 200,000 Queenslanders were offered homelessness support.
And yet, … that hasn’t been enough.
That’s why we need the Homes for Queenslanders plan.
HOMES FOR QUEENSLANDERS:
One of my first decisions as Premier was to appoint a dedicated Minister for Housing, Local Government, Planning and Public Works.
This is a housing mega-portfolio with all the levers state government can pull to deliver more housing in the social sector and the private market.
Today I’m announcing how our government will make Homes for Queenslanders a central priority.
The $3.1 billion investment I am announcing today in Homes for Queenslanders is the single largest investment in Queensland’s housing system ever.
It is a comprehensive plan to:
Build more homes faster
Help first home owners
Boost our social housing Big Build; and
Work towards ending homelessness
This record financial investment is significant, but the mechanisms matter too.
To ensure Homes for Queenslanders delivers, I have asked Minister Scanlon to refocus the Housing Roundtable to an implementation taskforce of key stakeholders who will help us achieve a better housing system.
Because good government’s partner with the right expertise.
PILLAR ONE - BUILD MORE HOMES, FASTER:
Our plan to Build More Homes Faster starts with a target to deliver 1 million new homes by 2046.
95 per cent will need to be in the private housing market, that’s why we will fund the trunk infrastructure to encourage more development.
We will start by progressing three new sites at Varsity Lakes, Mango Hill and Pimlico with leases of public land to developers to support new housing projects.
PILLAR TWO - SUPPORT RENTERS:
Our government understands the enormous pressure that many renters in Queensland are under.
Under our Homes for Queenslanders Plan we are delivering a priority relief package for Queensland renters to support more people to stay in the private market and out of the social housing system.
Funding things like bond loans, portable bonds and…banning rent bidding.
And we will increase the duration for the Rental Security Subsidy for all households and even more for people under 25.
On Sunday I met Caroline who talked to me about how tough it is to find a place to rent.
She said it’s not uncommon for there to be a line around the block for inspections.
And even if you get approved, you still have the find the money for the bond.
We helped Caroline out with a bond loan that helped her secure a property – and meant she could afford her moving costs.
PILLAR THREE - HELP FIRST HOME OWNERS:
To support first home owners we have doubled the Queensland First Home Owner Grant to $30,000 which is now the highest grant available in mainland Australia.
Under our Homes for Queenslanders Plan we are going further with a Queensland Home Finance Loan Pilot supporting Queenslanders living in regional locations.
We will also do more to support First Nations peoples into home ownership.
And we will back the Federal Government’s ‘Help to Buy’ Scheme by introducing legislation into the Queensland Parliament this year.
Housing shouldn’t be used as political football.
I will do everything I can as Premier to seek bipartisan support in Queensland for this initiative …. because we have not seen this at a national level.
PILLAR FOUR - BOOST OUR SOCIAL HOUSING BIG BUILD:
Investment in social housing across Australia has not kept up with demand.
In 1981 social housing was 4.9 per cent of housing stock.
In 2021 that figure had fallen to 3.8 per cent.
Today I am making a clear commitment that our government will step up and deliver a safe place to live for Queenslanders doing it tough.
We will restore social housing to where it needs to be as a percentage of the overall housing stock.
With a target of 53,500 social homes by 2046.
The largest investment in social housing in the history of Queensland.
We will work with the Federal Government to deliver on their national housing plan and again we call on bipartisan support for that plan in Queensland.
PILLAR 5 – WORK TOWARDS ENDING HOMELESSNESS:
One of the first things I did as premier was to visit the tents at Musgrave Park.
No one should have to live like that.
While there I met Munya who told me he was moving into a social housing home the very next day.
Our Homes for Queenslanders plan sets a clear target to end homelessness.
Queenslanders I talk to expect nothing less.
That’s why we are delivering a record 20 percent uplift to homelessness services.
Starting with an expansion to the inner-city Brisbane Critical Response Team to all regions from this month.
Dedicated teams will work on the ground with people who are experiencing homelessness and work alongside specialist homelessness services.
My goal is to have offered shelter to every single Queenslander sleeping rough.
I understand the importance of having a place to call home.
Having our own home gave me and my family security, stability and a sense of pride.
Kids growing up in Queensland today should have the same opportunity as I did to buy a house.
I will continue to work hard everyday for Queenslanders to make this a reality.