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Tuesday, 29 December 2015


Introducing Howard Marosi - Public housing campaigner

Howard is a Union delegate and skilled negotiator with a broad interest in politics. As a member of Friends of Public Housing Victoria he arranged a meeting with Trades Hall Council, where we gave a presentation on the privatisation by stealth of public housing. 

At that meeting, Trades Hall Council passed a resolution to oppose any further transfers of public housing stock to 'social' and 'community' housing.

Yarra Council has a lot of public housing. In June 2012, there was an unanimous decision by Yarra Council which opposed further transfers of desperately needed Public Housing to Housing Associations and Community Housing Organizations. Yarra Council was alarmed at how much public housing they stood to lose. Moreland Council passed a similar resolution.

The Napthine Liberal Government announced that it was intending to transfer 12,000 public housing properties to Community Housing Organizations. Now, the Andrews Labor Government has declared that it is prepared to privatize an unspecified amount of public housing, handing over first the management, with a view to transferring titles later.

Before the last election, the Greens had a policy of "no privatization of Victoria`s public housing assets". The newly elected Green MP in Prahran, Sam Hibbins, won by such a narrow margin that it is likely that the Public Tenant vote got him over the line, particularly as the Greens doorknocked the housing estates. Likewise, Ellen Sandell was elected in Melbourne with a large public housing constituency.  Now, after the election, the Greens policy is to support privatization under certain conditions, which is not that different from the Andrews Labor Government.

Privatizing public housing/allowing management or ownership by Community Housing Organizations will weaken the rights and protections currently enjoyed by Public Housing tenants.

Monday, 28 December 2015


A woman in a shop told me how she gave some chocolates to a homeless woman on the street who then broke down and cried. She told this story as a wonderful illustration of the meaning of Christmas...

I was a bit horrified by what she was telling me. It was all too 'Charles Dickens' for me.

 'and the miserable wretch clutched at her sleeve, and with tears streaming down her face
exclaimed  'Thank you m'lady. God will reward you for your kindness' 

There can be something very unequal about 'charity'  ...
I have my own guiding beliefs and I respect all religions - but it is surely a retrogressive step to take away justice and try and replace it with charity. 

Yet this is the direction the present  housing policy - is taking us in - without any accompanying political - or social - analysis. 

Remember a time when it was unthinkable that there would be homelessness in Australia ?

It is interesting how things are shifting ... and rapidly too.

A sensible class analysis wouldn't go astray.  But that's right. We are a classless society here in Australia we keep telling ourselves ... A fair go for all.  Advance Australia fair and all that malarkey.

Another ideologically driven assumption that is being repeated which is worrying is 
that somehow homelessness is inevitable, a fact of life, regrettable yes- but nevertheless 'acceptable'.

( Certainly not the responsibility or genuine concern of the government whose role is primarily to support and promote business interests )

Don't believe it for a minute. 

Homelessness is a running sore -  an indictment on our society.

As is the privatisation ( theft ) of public housing.

There should be no homelessness in a prosperous country like Australia.

Homelessness is an indication of what a selfish society we have become -  it's all about money, power, prestige and self-interest. Our values are screwed up. 'Greed is good' never really went out of style...

But I believe it is the political system that is taking us in this direction. It is not the wishes of ordinary people on the street .. But since when did politics truly represent the desires and wishes of the people? 

Friends of Public Housing is very happy to work side by side with the Homeless Persons Union of Victoria - HPUV.  We share the same analysis of the current situation. We deplore the deliberate neglect and privatisation of public housing. And the demonisation and stereotyping of both public tenants and homeless people.

Having a roof over your head is not a privilege- but a basic human right.

Sunday, 27 December 2015


I hope everyone had a happy Christmas.

An update on the campaign.

On 10.12.15, a group from Friends of Public Housing Victoria were invited to attend the Nick Xenephon launch in Victoria of his new national political party.

The Nick Xenophon Team has the snappy acronym – NXT.

The candidate for Higgins is Nancy Bassett and we were pleased to hear her speak on the importance of public housing. She spoke to the audience about the transferring of public housing titles, and the responsibility of government to ensure that we retain public housing - now and for the future.

Not only did she get the language right, ( no confusing ambiguous terms ) she nailed the issue ( the stock transfers ) and made it clear that the ongoing provision of public housing is a governmental responsibility, and the future depends on it.

Wow!!   How refreshing to hear honest, plain speaking common-sense regarding this urgent issue from a political candidate.

During the 'question and answer' session, when the topic of public housing was again raised,  
Nick Xenephon made the point that once these properties are gone they are gone forever.

We recently had White Ribbon Day to draw attention to the shocking national problem of domestic violence. Where are all these ( mainly ) women and children to go in order for them to be safe -if there is no housing available !?

We need public housing. We need to stop the scandalous practice of giving away publicly owned titles, and we need to increase the stock.

In the present political climate, most politicians studiously avoid talking about the transferring of public housing titles to private interests – which is, of course, the privatisation of a public asset. The stock transfers are still the big elephant in the room.

But no-one has the right to keep such a vitally important thing a secret - especially in the face of escalating homelessness and when there are such compelling arguments to hang on to public housing.

So let's congratulate Nancy Bassett from the Nick Xenephon Team for her courageous stand regarding the future of public housing - for not skirting the issue of the stock (or asset)  transfers, and for her support of government owned and managed public housing. 

The launch of NXT in Victoria was a vibrant function. We stayed and talked to the team afterwards about how the privatisation of public housing is being covertly orchestrated without the public tenants or the general public even knowing about it !!

We also spoke of the rights of public tenants which are being bulldozed along with so many publicly owned properties.


Saturday, 5 December 2015




If you want to really know what's going on, read this.


In reading this media release you will see that so-called 'Affordable Housing' is often not affordable for those who need it most. 'Community housing' and 'social housing' are not the same as public housing. 
 Below are some extracts from their media release.

Re Markham Avenue Public Housing Estate in Ashburton Victoria
"Markham Avenue is OURS; it belongs to the public, paid for from consolidated revenue, and it is not the government’s to sell!"
"Investigations by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in NSW in 2014 revealed that the area in which corruption has been most active has been between state governments and land developers. Speaking to the Markham Avenue estate, we find that: Almost three-quarters of the new units will be sold as private houses so the state is likely to earn a hefty profit on the project."

Under the title Public Housing not Social Housing.
“The HPUV finds this massive privatisation an affront to the near-35,000 Victorians on the 7-10 year public housing waiting list. However, what we find most worrisome, in addition to the disproportionate allocation of private dwellings vis-à-vis social dwellings, is the plan for the building of social housing itself, as opposed to public housing.

Community Housing Federation = Peak Body for Community Housing ( aka Social Housing.)
“The Community Housing Federation claims that community or social housing is only available to those who pay 30% or more of their income in a private rental property. In addition to the nebulous nature of this statement, we note that HPUV members currently pay 50% or more of their government benefit on their social housing dwelling, leaving them oftentimes reliant on food charity and on poorly funded not-for-profit organisations. In general, social housing rents contribute to the existing difficulty that all recipients of government benefits are facing to meet the costs of living.”

And under the title 'A complicit media' the HPUV says that 'commercial media provides tacit support to the free market solutions to the long-standing problems of social and economic inequity that we have highlighted. The domination of Australian media by commercial interests gives rise to a narrative which stereotypes public housing estates, portraying them oftentimes as havens for crime and deviant behaviour, where drug users, misfits, leaners, and general miscreants congregate."

'We believe the kind of depiction of public housing tenants and estates we have noted is a form of ‘poverty porn’ in which disadvantaged Victorians are looked upon as a spectacle.'

"We ask the Victorian public to reflect on the nature of social justice in our communities. In pursuing free market solutions to social and economic inequity, are we not effectively leaving people behind?"




'The problem you lot are facing is waking people up to the importance of your cause.
If a problem does not affect them personally, people basically switch off. People are busy living their own lives.

Of course the privatisation of public housing affects them. It affects all of us.
One person's homelessness is another person's problem.

We are certainly rich enough in Australia - there should be no homelessness at all.

If they taxed the multinationals for a start and utilized this money correctly and efficiently we would have a fairer society. The system is basically corrupt. The people at the top are taking, taking, taking and the people at the bottom are missing out. That's our system - capitalism.

The people in power are paid off to have a particular agenda. Maybe politicians started out with good intentions but they get swallowed up by the system. In the end they don't have a voice - they have to conform or they're out. Conform to a greedy ideology. In the end they just become lying hypocrites. Puppets. They do what they are told to do. I don't have time for politicians at all. That's why I don't vote. I took my name off the electoral roll. There's no point in voting.

And don't forget they're on good incomes and pensions for life. They're not going to rock the boat. Money talks. Politics nowadays is all about individuals getting their leg up on the ladder of their careers. There's a real absence of any discussion about what is good for the society as a whole - what's the right thing for the health and well-being of our society.

Most politicians get their education from middle or upper class schools. Mostly what they are learning is how the system works - and what the system tells them. There's a whole world outside this system. They don't get that.

They don't really have empathy for the people on the bottom.

Take aged care... Its a shambles. There's not enough money given for aged care - just like with housing and education. You see, there's no profit in these areas unless they are privatised. The government says there is not enough money to fund these services. Why not?  What's going on? Who's skimming it ?

My Dad ended up in a nursing home. One or two nurses for fifteen patients. Elderly people who can't walk and need to use the toilet. They call out for assistance and end up soiling themselves. Where's the dignity for our elderly citizens? Nurses are so stressed they leave the industry and they get in people on overseas visas. And the nursing home I'm describing, where my Dad lived, was by no means the worst. It was considered a reasonably good one. That's why when my Mum got dementia I looked after her at home. I was her carer.

Anyway that's what I think on the matter.  Good luck with your campaign'.


Quotes by Deb Chapman
Community Development Worker

"When well-meaning people and middle class organisations get captured by the Affordable Housing lobby, they take their eye off the main ball, which is the reduction of Public Housing."

" Friends of Public Housing Victoria show insightful analysis about the importance of Public Housing to our communities and broader society."