From The Age
A coalition of powerful building unions will launch a campaign urging the Napthine government to build more public housing to reduce waiting lists and create jobs.
The group, which includes the CFMEU and ETU, is preparing a submission for Premier Denis Napthine that outlines unused government-owned sites in inner-city Melbourne that could be transformed into public housing.
CFMEU state secretary John Setka said the campaign would tap into community concerns about public housing waiting lists, a slump in construction and derelict ”bomb sites” across Melbourne.
”It creates a lot of work for construction workers, it gets the economy going a bit and it reduces the public housing crisis,” he said. ”It’s a win-win situation for everyone.”
At least three government-owned sites including the former Gas and Fuel Corporation site at the corner of Smith Street and Alexandra Parade, a large block that houses the Kangan TAFE in Cremorne and land at the back of Richmond Town Hall, have been identified by the unions as potential locations.
”You can understand a government being reluctant if they have to go in and spend $20 million on a parcel of land and then another $20 million – but this is a situation where you they already have land, and in some situations buildings,” Mr Setka said.
Trades Hall secretary Brian Boyd said unions would make public housing ”a big issue” in the lead up to next year’s state election.
”All our anecdotal information suggests our public housing stock is not matching demand,” he said.
”The other issue we have associated with this is the bomb sites around the place – some are good locations for public housing.”
He said the unions were seeking advice from architects and engineers and would present the state government with a formal cas.
”We have had a bit of a slump in the building industry because the state government has not been generating infrastructure. Rather than being negative about it, we thought we could identify these sites as potential locations for public housing developments.”
Last month, the state government backed away from a contentious plan to overhaul Fitzroy and Richmond public housing estates and introduce an equal mix of public and private developments. This followed fierce opposition from the community and Yarra council.
Housing Minister Wendy Lovell said delaying the plans – which must be completed as part of Commonwealth state agreement – would let the government focus on a master plan for Horace Petty Estate in Prahran where there has been less community opposition.
The number of households on Victoria public housing waiting list increased by 685 to more than 37,000 in the December 2012 quarter.