Total Pageviews

Saturday, 15 December 2018



Waterloo Public Housing Action Group - WPHAG

 Have you seen the ABC documentary about Waterloo called "There Goes Our Neighbourhood"?

And now it's Australia's turn....
Whichever major party is in power across Australian states - the despicable covert privatisation of Public Housing and public land is likely to continue, because what's driving it - is money, power and mega-profits.
Homelessness of course will worsen!! The homeless, to our shame, are our internal refugees...

Personal testimonials. (1 )
At a meeting in Gronn Place in West Brunswick earlier this year, we heard from Louise who spoke about her sister's experience in Miller's Point in Sydney.

Here are some extracts from her speech. ( sound-file below )

"When the government said they wanted to "renew" Miller's Point, they said the main reason was that it was costing too much in maintenance. I can tell you right now, they spent nothing on maintenance. People had to paint their own places, had to replace their own stoves.The government spent nothing."

"In Miller's Point, to get them out, they offered them the world - not telling them they were finding them alternative accommodation by throwing those ( public ) tenants out. The same pretext - they said to existing tenants, "You'll only be out for 3 months and we'll fix the place up". In the meantime they brought in people from Miller's Point."

"There's two reasons why people live in Public Housing. The first reason is they choose to because of their community. Secondly they can't afford any other accommodation, either temporarily or permanently. There has to be a place in our society for people who can't afford to buy or pay high rents. Everybody is a citizen." 

Regarding the displacement process underway in Melbourne's inner-city under the Labor government...

Louise : "People have mentioned the government coming along with pieces of paper and smiles on their faces. What happens is they tell lie after lie. The minute people give up their place in Public Housing - they're heading down the road of homelessness for a number of reasons."

"There were families living up there in Miller's Point, and in the end the government said "We don't have any 3 bedrooms" and then "We don't have any 2 bedrooms". What's a family supposed to do? Throw their teenagers out on the street? This is the sort of thing that is going on".

"I've been speaking to people about this issue and they say, 'Oh, what's the government doing?' We definitely have to get the word out there, about what the government's doing, and expose their 'solutions'."

In summing up...

"Now there's no reason for this. It's simply greed and a land grab. And it's also tactics. They'll look at how strong people are, how solid people are about this. And if they think they can come in and get away with this, they will. Now I have a very good feeling that people are going to stand on this, because we are at a stage where people know economically things are not good. Not so good for the adults, not so good for the children. So people now have to hang on to what they've got and not take the word of the government that they're going to do the right thing by you."


The emptying of public housing from public housing estates in Melbourne is proceeding quickly under Labor, and we are concerned that following the major swing to Labor in November's state election, the state government might up the ante even further ... 

Testimonial 2. 
In Victoria we are hearing similar stories. Public tenant Neville ( "my home is my castle" ) was told that if he and his family move out, they will be able to return in four months time...

Councillor Sue Bolton from Moreland Council, "There is no way public tenants will be returning in four months' time. We know it takes YEARS for these sites to be rebuilt. This is scurrilous information for public tenants to be told."

Testimonial 3.
Retired engineer and member of FOPHV, Richard Lasek, also talks of public tenants being told that their homes need to be renovated, and that they will be returning as soon as the renovations are completed. These tenants were very confused because they had already heard in the news, and from other communications with the department, that their public housing estate was going to be demolished...

To quote a public tenant from Waterloo - "What's going on !?"


Please help us to save public housing by supporting this blog and our Facebook page.

Vulnerable people with disabilities, migrants with limited English, elderly pensioners, and families need us to pay attention, in order to ensure that their human rights are protected. This is Australia - and the public do care about what is happening to Public Housing and the fate of public tenants.

Other pro-public housing and resident action groups, have started collecting stories and anecdotes from the tenants, which I think is a very good idea. Too many government-funded organisations are turning a blind eye to the plight of public tenants, including church based charities.

Congratulations to Labor for their decisive win in the Victorian State Elections. Richard Wynne is the new Housing Minister, and we will be making an appointment to speak with him in the New Year.

We will keep you posted.

Friends of Public Housing NSW
Richard Lasek

Thursday, 22 November 2018


At the Vigil for Public Housing held on Parliament House Steps
organised by Joe Toscano, Independent Candidate for Albert Park.


So what actually happened to the former residents of The Gatwick in St Kilda, victims of gentrification? Weren't there reassurances at the time that they would be safely rehoused?


"Lethal article released just before Victorians go to the polls. If this isn't a good enough reason to build more #publichousing and for the Andrews Labor government to stop hiding the fact that SCORES of public housing across this city and this state LIE EMPTY, we don't know what is.

Over 86,000 people on the Victorian public housing waiting list, hundreds of people sleeping in the CBD every night - - Labor's promise of building 1,000 new public housing places is just not going to cut it - it's not just insulting, it's a form of STATE VIOLENCE. 

You won't hear the homelessness organisations saying this, as they are dependent on government money to do their work. This is the crisis we are in in 2018 Australia, folks. It's a humanitarian disaster.

Think about your vote on Saturday and if you give two hoots about equality, justice and dignity in this state, give your vote to those who have a genuine public housing policy. Not 'social', not 'affordable', not 'community' housing - that's just more money for the corporations. We're talking about PUBLIC HOUSING - owned by US.

Homeless Persons Union Victoria

'Alarming' number of women forced to move out of the Gatwick for The Block are now in jail…/alarming-number-of-women-…/ar-BBPVhK6…

Meanwhile, in the following article

"Fans of The Block and those looking for a “rich people’s” home rejoice. The former Gatwick Hotel’s now luxuriously renovated apartments are officially for sale, with the listings landing online today." The renovated apartments will range from $2.2 million to $2.75 million.

Wednesday, 31 October 2018


DEMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT. I personally believe that it is very important for citizens to become active in affecting change, and this is something we should all be doing, if we possibly can. Go where your passion is, and make a difference! It is written into the Charter of Human Rights that citizens have the right to partake in political and public life.


The following BLOG-POST which addresses the issue of housing affordability is by MICHAEL NAISMITH - member of the PUBLIC HOUSING DEFENSE NETWORK.
PHDN is organising the following RALLY. Put the date in your diary. 
Come along, bring your friends and help us to SAVE PUBLIC HOUSING. 
Visit us on Facebook

Does it have to be that way? 

A Short History of Rent Control in Australia 
by Michael Naismith

What is rent control?
Rent control is a form of regulation limiting the amount of rent a private landlord can charge. It can also include putting limits on the size of rent increases, or how often increases are allowed to be implemented.

Lots of people have heard that rent control, or rent regulation, exists in some counties in Europe, or in some states in the US, but very few are aware that it has also existed at various times in Australia.

For the most part governments have been forced to reign in private landlords during times of economic and social crisis.

Rent control was first introduced in New South Wales during the First World War in 1916, as part of the Fair Rents Act. This Act was amended in 1928 to wind back rent controls, but during the Great Depression rent controls were reintroduced with the Reduction of Rent Act (1931). This resulted in a 23% reduction in rents and restrictions on evictions.
The powers-that-be once again ended rent control with the Landlords and Tenants (Amendment) Act in 1932. This chopping and changing mostly coincided with changes of government at the New South Wales state level. 

At the beginning of World War Two, 50% of all households were tenants of private landlords. The Commonwealth, under its defense powers, introduced the National Security (Fair Rents) Regulations 1939. This gave the states the power to freeze rents and establish Fair Rent Boards.  

A form of rent control existed in most states across Australia and continued until August 1948. 

At this point there was a constitutional challenge against the government’s right to continue wartime price controls. These controls were kept in the context of social unrest, strikes, communist agitation and the recent experience of the Great Depression. The constitutional challenge led to an unsuccessful referendum, where the Chifley government attempted to gain back rent and other price control measures. 
The Landlord and Tenants Act 1948 maintained rent control in New South Wales beyond this, in order to provide security of tenure to all tenants. This was because of the dire need for accommodation following the war. 
In 1954 however, all newly constructed buildings were exempted from the Act, and by 1956 a premise could be ‘decontrolled’ when vacated if registered with the Fair Rent Board. In 1960 there were still 207,000 controlled dwellings, which amounted to two thirds of all private rental properties. 

In 1968, ‘wealthy tenant provisions’ were introduced to bring rents up to market value, winding back rent control further.
By 1974 there were only 20,000 rent-controlled tenancies in New South Wales and by 1986 no new protected tenancies could be created. The exception to this was ‘inheritance’, where if tenant died then a spouse or dependent could continue the lease.
A similar story played out in Victoria, where the Landlord and Tenants Act 1958 restricted the application of rent control provisions to ‘prescribed premises’.  In 1956 there were 180,000 protected tenants, but this was slowly whittled away. The Residential Tenancy Act 1980 aimed to remove rent control on the remaining premises over a period of two years. It was estimated that up to 10,000 pensioners still had rent control at that stage, and this Act caused a massive increase in rents for those least able to afford it. 
In place of rent control, a new system was established in Victoria where a tenant could complain to the Residential Tenancy Tribunal if an increase in their rent was considered excessive. This was nowhere near as effective as proper government regulation.
Western Australia commenced the decontrol of rent in 1951. In Tasmania, rent control ended in 1955. In Queensland, protected tenancies were abolished in 1970 and in South Australia in 1962.
Today renters face renewed financial pressures, with millions once again suffering from rent stress. This is a direct consequence of landlords, developers and speculators making billions of dollars from people’s intrinsic need for a place to live.
As it stands, the rights of renters in Australia have been severely curtailed. There is a desperate need to build a movement of renters to pressure governments to overhaul the laws and grant renters much improved rights. 
Rent control and other reforms have been won in the past, they can be won again. Let’s renew the fight!  


The Renters Fightback campaign calls for private rents to be capped at 20% of a tenant’s income, in addition to a requirement for landlords to be forced to maintain rental properties at a high standard. Tenants should also have the right to demand long-term security of tenure, including infinite leases.
For more information visit:

by Michael Naismith

Tuesday, 16 October 2018


Questions put to me by a journalist.

Only a small quote of what I wrote got into print. I post it here in full, with some updates, because this is the type of discussion we really need to be having publicly - before it's too late. More privatising of Public Housing across to Social/Community Housing is in the pipeline.  

And since we are following Britain's housing policies, read about the mass transfers of UK Council Housing in Britain ( their version of Public Housing ) that have already taken place, with disastrous consequences in terms of housing stress, poverty ( bedroom taxes ) and increasingly visible homelessness.

More and more voices are now joining together, saying the same thing - that the growth of Community (social) Housing must not be at the expense of Public Housing! 

A link to the article in question is at the bottom of the page.


How did you get involved with Friends of Public Housing? What's your role with the group?

I'm a public tenant. My neighbour Jeremy Dixon and I used to be public tenant representatives for our estate in 2012 and attended meetings with the Department of Human Services. We discovered in our roles, that the government was handing over the ownership of public housing, under Labor's 'Asset Conversion Strategy'. I felt that it was wrong that titles of public assets were being given away and the general public was completely unaware of it. No-one believed us when we said that the government was "giving away" public housing, but in fact state governments had been doing it for some time. This is why today only 2.7 % of all housing in Victoria is public housing!

Meanwhile the need for public housing is growing all the time, and homelessness is escalating!

I am the convenor of Friends of Public Housing Victoria and together with Eileen Artmann, who founded the Facebook page, we act as spokespersons for the media.


Why is it so important that social housing stays owned and run by the government?

First of all it is a function of the government - its Duty of Care and its responsibility- to ensure that all our citizens have a roof over their head. Homelessness is is an indictment on a prosperous country like Australia.

These properties are desperately needed public assets- now and for the future. They belong to the people of Victoria. The government has no right to dispose of them in this way. The fact that they are largely doing this in secret, seems to indicate that they are aware there would be more public opposition to their plans, if the public knew of it.

Community Housing Organisations consist of about 60 separate businesses in Victoria with varying policies regarding rent-setting and eligibility. They cater to 'low to medium' income earners, and unlike the public housing system, they can cherry pick who they house. The most vulnerable people, including the homeless, are often overlooked by Community Housing businesses. This policy direction is creating an underclass of homeless people with nowhere to turn, since we are losing public housing all the time, through demolitions,transfers to Community (Social ) Housing and sell-offs to the private sector.

The Public Housing system provides greater security of tenure for vulnerable people by offering them flexible rents that go up or down, depending on changing life circumstances, in Community Housing this is largely absent. Community Housing ( aka social housing ) often puts tenants on contracts, whereas Public Housing offers permanent tenure. There are more safeguards in Public Housing
regarding rent-setting.

So you see, that although Public and Community Housing now go by the umbrella name ‘Social Housing’ they are two very distinct models of housing with serious differences and implications for tenants.


Do you see a risk that if social housing sites are privately owned, their use might be changed down the track, leaving people more vulnerable?

Yes. Community / Social Housing has been part of the housing landscape in Victoria for several years now, and we are already seeing indications of this. They cater for low to medium income earners. Extremely desperate people with high and complex needs are often ignored by 'Community Housing'.

In 2014 the 8 major Housing Associations housed hardly any of the applicants referred to them by DHS -preferring to find a percentage of prospective tenants eligible for public housing via their own methods. Although required to take 'up to 50%' of applicants referred by the Department from the Public Housing waiting list, the actual number of these referred applicants accepted by Community Housing Associations ranged from 0 to 18%! Seven of the eight major Housing Associations housed under 2% of government referred applicants !!

Many of these applicants referred by the government were those in the greatest need, or had been waiting many years for housing.

In response, the Community Housing Federation stated that Community Housing Organisations are 'independent bodies and are not subject to the control or direction of government unless there is a specific legal or contractual obligation in place to do so.The DHHS Guidelines are perhaps therefore better understood as a statement of general intent by government as to its desired outcomes.'

The peak body also attempted to justify the practice of favouring higher-paying tenants, by complaining that they receive no financial compensation by the government to house those on very low incomes. ( The largesse given to them by successive governments in terms of properties, funding and ongoing Commonwealth Rent Assistance is staggering. )

The writing is on the wall. 

The people that Community Housing is failing to house, will find that they have nowhere to go. If the government continues to hand over public housing to these very businesses, there will no longer be the safety net of Public Housing!


What would you say to those who see a need for public housing to be built or updated by whatever means necessary – even if it means private developers are footing the bill?

I would say to them, "How bad do outcomes have to be before you tell the government to go back to the drawing board?"

The "Public Housing Renewal Program" will result in a massive loss of irreplaceable public land to private developers, ( around three quarters ) and only a token increase of 'social housing' (10% ). Three bedroom family units will be replaced by 1 and 2 bedroom units resulting in an actual decrease in capacity to house people, and it's unlikely, that even that will be genuine public housing. With a waiting list of 37,000 applications for Public Housing, ( made up of 58,000 adults and 25,000 children )  Labor’s housing policy direction is indefensible.


Does Friends of Public Housing support not-for-profit organisations building and running public housing? Why or why not?

The small housing providers are becoming a thing of the past. The changing face of 'Community Housing' is that we are dealing with increasingly large corporations. The eight major players, the Community Housing Associations, those that are most likely to win the tenders, are also property developers.

The term ‘Not-for-Profit’ can be a bit misleading because they are still required to be
profitable in the usual sense of the word - their income needs to exceed their expenses. And to achieve this end can be often be at the expense of the tenants. ( ie cherry picking prospective tenants and raising rents if need be )

An ongoing stream of federal public money in the form of Commonwealth Rent Assistance is required by not-for-profit Community Housing businesses as an operating subsidy. Public tenants do not need CRA because their rents are truly affordable, being outside market forces. We think that this ongoing stream of funding would be far better used to build more public housing.


What do you think needs to be done to provide the large amount of public housing needed in Victoria? Where does FOPHV want the government to get the funds from?

Firstly the government needs to genuinely recommit to the principles of Public Housing, hold on to and maintain the existing public housing stock, and keep ownership of the land. It should stop transferring these assets to Community Housing businesses and the private sector. It should also stop funding Community Housing at the expense of Public Housing. Labor is planning a 'Billion Dollar Social Housing Growth Fund' and $100 million dollars worth of loans, all of which is intended for Community Housing Associations. Meanwhile Public Housing is starved of the funding it needs to survive and thrive.

Victoria recently received $2.077 billion from the sale of the Snowy Hydro Project, and an unexpected $1.8 billion from the GST. These windfalls need to be spent on improving infrastructure. I cannot think of a project more deserving and more necessary than improving and delivering more public housing to address the housing crisis and homelessness.

Sometimes it is not so much the lack of money, but the lack of political will that’s the problem..

Take the complete and utter waste of 9 billion dollars in Federal funds to address the housing crisis and homelessness under the Rudd Housing Agreement which began in 2009. Not one benchmark was achieved by the states in all that time! Where did all that money go? The executive director of Federation of Housing Associations admitted that there had been little transparency and it was "difficult to understand how that money has been spent"! During that time, the amount of Public Housing continued to decline and was allowed to fall into disrepair.


Would FOPHV members call themselves, for all intents and purposes, "PHIMBYs" ( Public Housing In My Back Yard )

Yes we are PHIMBYs. We want to see a robust, well-managed public housing sector which will provide housing for a broader demographic and present a viable alternative to home ownership and the private rental market.


Do you think there's a growing number of people in Melbourne who want to see public housing
kept public?

Absolutely. When we take our message to the streets, we find that most people are completely unaware of the paradigm shift that is occurring. They are confused by the terms 'Public Housing, Community Housing and Social Housing' which are used interchangeably and obfuscates the fact that public housing is being privatised by stealth.

When the public learn of this, they are shocked. The public generally oppose the privatisation of public assets. They know that the market will not be able to solve the housing crisis and homelessness.

Interestingly when the Liberals were in power in Victoria they were more frank about describing the transfer of public housing to Community / Social Housing as privatisation, whereas Labor seems to want to avoid the word at all costs.


Sources -
1. Access to Community Housing in Victoria. Nov 2015 by Community Housing Federation of Victoria. p6 of 14.

2. The Australian "9BN home affordability scheme to be dumped in May Budget"