Statement from ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja


In the April 2017 issue of Catholic Voice, an article titled Cuts will put ‘hundreds at risk’ included incorrect and misleading statements. The article began by asserting that:

“CatholicCare and St Vincent de Paul… [are] calling on the Federal Government to reconsider its intention to axe $1.3 billion from the National Affordable Housing Agreement”

This statement seriously mischaracterises the Government’s position and intentions on these issues.  The Commonwealth Government spends over $6 billion annually on housing and homelessness, including the $1.3 billion National Affordable Housing Agreement (NAHA), $117 million the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness (NPAH) and $4.5 billion on Commonwealth Rent Assistance.  The Government has no plans to discontinue this funding.

The article then states that:

“The Federal Government has argued that the national agreement has failed to deliver any meaningful outcomes”

This is not an accurate reflection on the Government’s arguments regarding the NAHA. The Government understands many organisations are doing good work with funding through NAHA and NPAH and some of these organisations have achieved good outcomes. But it is unarguable that against its own criteria, the NAHA has not met its goals.  The 2016 COAG Report on Performance confirmed that through 8 years and $9 billion the NAHA has failed against its own performance criteria:

  • Criteria 1: A 10 per cent reduction in the proportion of low-income renter households experiencing rental stress: no evidence that progress has been made. Instead, this increased from 35.4 per cent in 2007–08 to 42.5 per cent in 2013–14 (up 7.1 per cent)
  • Criteria 2: A 7 per cent reduction in number of homeless from 2006 to 2013: increase from just under 90,000 in 2006 to more than 105,000 in 2011 — a 17.3 per cent increase (noting that data to assess whether this benchmark has been achieved will not be available until release of 2016 Census data)
  • Criteria 3: A 10 per cent increase in proportion of Indigenous Australians who own their own home from 2008 to 2017–18: no evidence of any increase since 2008
  • Criteria 4: A 20 per cent reduction in proportion of Indigenous households living in overcrowded conditions: 16 per cent decrease in the proportion between 2008 and 2012–13 (on track).

CatholicCare and St Vincent de Paul representatives further state that a total of eight combined programs are funded under these agreements. It is important to recognise that the Commonwealth Government does not fund any services directly. NAHA and NPAH funding is provided to the states and territories and they are responsible for determining which services are contracted, where those services are located and the amount of funding a service receives.

The Commonwealth has sought to engage in good faith with the states, territories, and service providers, to determine the best way to increase accountability and improve housing outcomes. It is disappointing that on this occasion the Government was not provided the opportunity to clarify its position prior to publication.

The Commonwealth Government is keen to ensure that housing assistance is provided in the most effective and efficient way possible so that those in our community most in need will find support.