Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Ministers

We referred yesterday to the new State Coalition Government's Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello. It would be remiss of us if we didn't properly congratulate him and his colleagues newly appointed to ministerial portfolios relating to renting.

Congratulations to the new Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts –

(Minister for Fair Trading, Anthony Roberts MLA)

and the Minister for Housing...


... actually, there is no Minister for Housing. For the first time in 70 years, there is no Minister for Housing in the NSW State Government. Congratulations instead to Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce –

(Minister for Finance and Services, Greg Pearce MLC)

and Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward.

(Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward MLA)

Ministers Pearce and Goward share responsibilities previously allocated to Housing Ministers, including administration of the Housing Act 2001.

This new division of ministerial responsibilities is an interesting development, and we'll have to see how it works in practice. As noted by the Brown Couch after the federal election, the Commonwealth Government has also lost its Housing Minister. We were disappointed with that decision, because the Commonwealth had only just restored the portfolio after years of abeyance under the Howard Government, and a wide-ranging federal housing portfolio had the potential to direct policy to outcomes like improved affordability and security, rather keeping the great housing Ponzi scheme going.

The situation is a little different at the level of State Government, because unlike the Commonwealth Government it is directly involved in housing provision through the public housing bureaucracy. Despite successive Housing Ministers taking office with a commitment to being 'a minister for housing, not just public housing', each has been fatally attracted to the administration of public housing, including individual allocation and tenancy management decisions.

Maybe the new arrangement will break the curse. Still, its a curious thing for the Commonwealth Government, which does not directly administer a social housing system, to have a Minister for Social Housing, and for the NSW State Government, which does have a social housing system, not to have a Housing Minister at all.


It would be remiss of us too if we did not acknowledge at least a few of those on the opposite side of politics who exited the parliament at the recent election.

In particular, the former Fair Trading Minister, Virginia Judge, who lost her seat in the Legislative Assembly, deserves credit for her role in producing the new Residential Tenancies Act 2010. After an over-long review of our renting laws (under three previous Ministers), it was Ms Judge who finally got out of it a new – and significantly improved – Act.

Secondly, we also acknowledge the efforts of Paul Pearce, previously MLA for Coogee. Mr Pearce was never a Minister for Fair Trading or Housing – more's the pity, because he was always a voice in the parliament for tenants and marginal renters. He leaves with our thanks and best wishes.

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