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Byron Shire
July 5, 2022

Greens introduce Bill to protect renters following flooding

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Woodburn flooding aftermath, March 2022. Photo Leïla Joy.

There are many landlords, holiday accommodation owners and people with a spare room who have put their hands up to help people who have lost their homes in the recent flood. Unfortunately, there are also those who will take advantage of the increased demand for housing to push tenants out, jack up rents and generally take advantage of the disastrous flooding that has taken place.

Jenny Leong MP, NSW Greens Housing Spokesperson.

Today, Jenny Leong, the Greens NSW Housing spokesperson, will introduce a Private Members Bill that will seek ‘to protect renters who have been impacted by the catastrophic floods throughout NSW’.

‘This emergency should not be an opportunity for landlords to evict tenants or profiteer by jacking up rents – simply because so many homes have been destroyed the demand for rental properties has skyrocketed,’ said Ms Leong. 

Local Greens MP for Ballina Tamara Smith said ‘The extent of damage in regional towns and villages is such that there will be a deficit of available rental properties for the foreseeable future. We need to ensure that every possible rental property is available for medium to long term rentals for at least the next 12 months.’

The Greens state in a press release that ‘The Bill will include specific flood response measures, including putting a moratorium on evictions and capping rents to prevent landlords profiteering from the extreme housing shortage caused by the floods. The Bill also responds to the broader rental crisis in NSW – to improve the habitability, affordability and security of tenure’.

Cr Mark Swivel. Photo supplied

Byron councillor calls for a moratorium

The call for a moratorium on evictions was also made by local Byron Shire Councillor Mark Swivel yesterday (23 March) who also called for ‘a moratorium on evictions arising from the flood’.

‘We should have a moratorium on evictions to minimise social disruption and distress to tenants,’ he told The Echo.

‘Flooding does not automatically end a tenancy. Tenants should be able to leave a property temporarily and know they can return once repairs are made, with the lease intact.

‘A right to terminate a lease for example due to flooding does not mean the lease needs to be terminated. A landlord keeps their obligation to repair a property and keep it habitable. Just as a tenant must keep a property in good order. Of course people should not be staying in unhealthy or unsafe properties but the end goal has to be to keep people in their homes. The uncertainty and displacement caused by eviction can and should be avoided in the aftermath of a natural disaster.’

Housing shortage

‘The chronic shortage of rental properties could cause a huge increase in the cost of rent as people scramble to find somewhere to live – which is why we have introduced this Bill to limit landlords from profiteering from this catastrophic situation,’ said Ms Leong.

‘Renters will need just as much support as property owners and small and large businesses to get back on their feet after these catastrophic floods – it’s clear that the market has failed when it comes to housing and that’s why we need to legislate to protect renters rights.

‘With so many homes destroyed, damaged and mould infested, it’s important that investors do not seek to make a profit off uninhabitable housing.’

Ballina MP Tamara Smith by the Richmond River in Ballina. Photo David Lowe.

Ms Smith is calling on the government to support The Bill saying ‘The scale and scope of devastation can’t be captured in single media images and the crisis our region is facing can’t be dealt with by single piecemeal fixes here and there.

‘We know that the demand for rental properties was exceeding availability well before the storms hit – now the situation is even more dire. I urge the government to support our plan for rent relief.’


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13 COMMENTS

  1. Every single issue, the Greens advocate (layer upon layer of) inequality.

    A party with no idea what “social justice” is anymore

    • Of course, you right, the Greens have no clue about “social justice”.
      I mean, the Greens –
      The only party that has a Climate and Energy policy that follows the science. Climate Change is just as much a social issue as an environment, economic and security issue. The Liberals and ALP happy to continue boosting Fossil Fuel usage that fuels Climate Change that results in more intense disasters like we have with the devastation Lismore flooding.
      The only party with a policy to lift the Unemployment benefit above the poverty line. The Liberals did lift unemployment a little but it way below the poverty line. As for the ALP, they’ve run dead on lifting unemployment benefit. The foolish Greens, thinking that alleviating poverty has anything to do with “social justice’, yeah.
      The only party that treats Refugees and Asylum Seekers as human beings. Craig Foster AM gave an address at The National Press Club 23/3/2022 that included a withering takedown of Australia’s treatment of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. I entreat all to watch Craig Foster’s address by getting onto ABC iview and dialling up Craig Foster’s address.

      Yep, the Greens have some serious rethinking to do about “social justice”.
      Best leave it to the Liberals and ALP, they got it all sorted.

      • The idea that there is no difference between the two major parties is dangerous and destructive. The Labor party has a century plus proud tradition of fighting for social justice and if you think the “good fight” spirit is gone from the party you are sadly deluded.

        Part of that tradition is recognising that the national economy, and how it is managed, is central to providing decent living standards and a social safety net. Part of that recognition is understanding that we must transition from fossil fuel dependency not make politically opportune statements about how it can all happen tomorrow to be replaced instantly by a fully operational alternative power industry.

        Indeed there is no time left for transitioning but remember that over ten years ago Labor tackled the dangerous ground of attempting to introduce the CPRS to be scuttled by the Greens. What we couldn’t afford in these urgent times was another thirteen years of conservative destruction and the conversion of climate policy to political poison.

        I haven’t heard too much Labor campaigning that denigrates the Greens. The Greens’ policies should be able to stand on their own merits without verballing Labor.

        This political opportunism, and partisan media promotion is the best way to return Richmond to the conservatives. There must be by now some likely contenders in the Anthony dynasty that could step up.

        • Liz, it is all well and good to hold onto the dream that was the ALP of old but the ALP today is more and more just like the Liberals. Just a few examples:
          – Climate and Energy policy that doesn’t follow what the Science, UN /IPCC “Code Red for Humanity”, says that needs doing. The ALP walks the same line as the Liberals in continuing FF use and expanding FF use.
          – Refugee and Asylum Seeker policy of mandatory detention is the same as the Liberals. ALP talks a big game about the Biloela Family but if this family arrived today under an ALP Government they would go straight into mandatory detention.
          – The ALP under ex-PM Julia Gillard chucked thousands of single parents off the Single Parent payment onto the lower Newstart ( Unemployment ) payment. Who as an ALP Leader does that?
          – ALP has resisted all calls, under ex-leader Shorten and current leader Albanese, to commit to raising Unemployment benefit above the poverty line.
          – ALP dumped proposed negative gearing, franking credits and capital gains tax just so that they could copy the Liberals
          – ALP voted with Liberals to bring in JobKeeper, a scheme that deliberately left tens of thousands of people behind; those that worked in the Arts and Entertainment Industry; those that worked in the University sector; those casuals that had worked less than 12months with their at the time employer and of course all those on temporary work and study visas that had been working here and paying taxes, that were suddenly abandoned and basically told go home if you can’t support yourself we / Australia don’t want you here anymore. Yay for ALP!

          This is the reality of today’s ALP, it isn’t verballing ALP.
          The ‘Labor way’ of today would make The Great Man and The Great Woman roll in their graves.

          The Greens didn’t vote for ex-PM Kevin Rudd’s CPRS in 2009 because it was bad policy.
          This is all on the Greens website.
          Ex-PM Kevin could have called a Double Dissolution election but he ran away from it and ran away from his own policy.
          Bad policy doesn’t get a free pass, ALP or Liberal.
          The Greens supported ex-PM Julia Gillard’s ETS because it was good policy.

          I was once an ALP supporter but ALP increasingly annoyed me with their Liberal copying until I said, no more.
          I want better than the Liberals and I want better than ALP.
          The Greens for me are that ‘better’.

  2. I am a renter in Tweed Heads. The rental crisis is affecting all renters we have no security and face eviction so the rent can be hiked up. We need new protections and long term rentals. The working poor are suffering with the rise in rents and also the rises in living costs. We miss out on any assistance.

  3. Joachim, the Greens support the cintinuation of international tourism, which is not about following the science.

    They advocate more racial discrimination in employment opportunity. Where is the social judtice in an unemployed person being blocked from applying for a job on the basis of their race?

    They advocated a two-tiered welfare system to respond to covid – as did Labor – where some got income support at 80% of their salary, while others got left on jobseeker (which they were campaigning, along with ACOSS, for to be set at $755 a fortnight, well below the poverty line). The inequality of jobkeeper was actually less than Labor and the Greens had campaigned for, implemented by the LNP! Where was tbe social justice in what the Greens called for?

    The Greens now call for more protections for rentets – but only those affected by flood. Where is the social justice?

    This is on top of them not opposing the creation of a very generous rental assistance policy, only for flood victims while other unemployed peoole get bugger all rent assistance – or no asdistance when trying to pay a mortgage. Whete is the social justice?

    The Greens policies are pushing injustice, and accepting injustice, constantly

  4. Liz, what you say is quite pertinent, ex ept your attempt to portray Labor as pursuing social justice.

    This is quite overly optimistic when, last time in government, Labor did nothing to address the poverty of unemployment benefits – and instead threw more people under that bus; those least able to get a job.

    The community does not trust Labor to address the problem of the rate of unemployment income support being too low and tbe rate of psyment clawback when one starts earning being too high too quickly.

    Because the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour

    • Come on Shane, think about it. Labor came to power in Dec 2007 and were almost immediately hit with the GFC. Economic stimulus, so anathema to the conservatives, saved the average citizens from the economic ravages of recession and that was the main priority. After the first term they had to deal with the challenges of minority government but still managed to introduce such social justice measures as the NDIS, Gonsky education funding and aged care reform.

      I’m not going to spend hours researching the comparative levels of unemployment benefits but my guess would be it’s much lower than the poverty level now than it was under Labor. Labor always had data matching but it wasn’t Labor that introduced robodebt, then persisted with it despite its demonstrable shortcomings and resultant suffering and injustices.

      Labor supported, rather than knee-jerk opposed, wage rise and wage parity cases before the FWC.

      Even the measures that theLNP reluctantly introduced to deal, through lockdown, with rent relief and income support were through the lobbying of Labor and the union movement. We would have had SFA without the advocacy of this political force.

      I know who’d I’d trust more to prioritise social justice and it’s certainly not the LNP. Neither is it necessarily the Greens who supported Government legislation that threw many single pensioners, often women, off the pension and it’s benefits, because of some meagre superannuation accounts that would struggle to produce a liveable income.

      • That economic stimulus is called “kicking the can down the road”. That pain is still coming.
        Howard never got rid of the national debt, he shifted it to the states to reduce the “Federal debt” not the National debt. That too was “kicking the can down the road”. That pain is still coming.

        • My point Chris was that, unlike the coalition, Labor had considerable challenges to deal with in a short stint in government and still managed to prioritise social equity. Julia Gillard dealt with 3 opposition leaders and passed record levels of legislation.

          I’M not going to pretend expertise in every area of study, including economics. Sure the debt has consequences but so do depressions/recessions – especially for the most economically vulnerable

  5. I think if anyone holds onto dreams Joachim it’s those who don’t understand that politics is the art of the possible. Who hold that it’s better to maintain absolutes in policy than it is to have influence and make gains. Your discussion of Jobkeeper provides a fine example.

    Labor were in OPPOSITION but still managed to get this extreme Tory government to budge on this scheme when they had firmly stated they would do zilch about the thousands left without incomes. Being in opposition though means they didn’t have the numbers to totally shape the package. They stated what they saw as it’s shortcomings but had some choices:
    The first was spend the next few months arguing and hold out until it was perfect (never likely) while those snaking Centrelink queues grew longer and people were left evicted on the streets with no income for food. The other was to get some urgently needed support out there and push for what simultaneously happened with the loosened eligibility and significantly increased payments for Jobseeker.

    The former certainly would have allowed them to strut around smugly saying they wouldn’t support inferior policy but are you seriously suggesting it would be better to be left with nothing?

    “ ALP dumped proposed negative gearing, franking credits and capital gains tax just so that they could copy the Liberals”. Seriously Joachim, you must know what a ridiculous statement that is. It wouldn’t have something to do with how these policies were made prime fodder by their opponents to pull off yet another unlikely term in power?

    Don’t get me wrong, I get frustrated with Labor – not least with how they botched the last election with this badly explained, badly sold and incompletely thought out fiscal package.

    I’ve written before about the first-hand experience of seeing ill prepared youth once lulled into thinking that 16 years on parenting payment is an eternity, suddenly finding themselves all too soon on the job market with no quals, no recent work experience and no savings. Continuing to provide just a smidge above Newstart isn’t good policy either. What the Gillard government did was introduce consistency, removing the “grandfathering” that John Howard implemented with the original change.

    Truly you’ve introduced a lengthy agenda here Joachim and I don’t have the patience today to detail the something is better than nothing aspects of these (I have already anyway). We can’t equally tear apart the Greens’ policy manifestations because I can’t think of too many. Oh except the one I mentioned before about throwing single aged pensioners off any benefits because they had around 400,000 grand in super/savings. Sounds a lot? Try living on the income that produces when you don’t have the latitude for aggressive investments.

  6. Yep . . . & it’s useless to dream on when I say ‘bring Gillard back’ because
    that’s impossible. ie; you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

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