Today I’m releasing a package of measures aimed at the housing affordability crisis. It’s an issue I’ve been pushing on for years, and whilst it has finally started to get some political traction at federal level in recent months (mainly because the crisis has got so bad it can no longer be ignored, even by the federal government), there has been surprisingly little focus on it in the election campaign thus far. I hope it doesn’t end up staying in the too hard basket yet again.
Coinciding with this, I’m speaking in the morning at a forum in Caboolture sponsored by a group called Australia Fair, and organised by Queensland Shelter and QCOSS. The forum is called “Housing in the Political Spotlight”. Caboolture is in the electorate of Longman, which is held by Minister Mal Brough with a margin of around 6.8%. Unfortunately, there isn’t a federal Minister for housing, which is one of the reasons the problem has been left to fester for so long and no one at federal level will take responsibility for it. However, in as much as any Minister has responsibility for it, it’s Mal Brough in his capacity as Minister for Family and Community Services, so I’m looking forward to hear what he has to say at the forum. I hope it isn’t just blaming the states.
In the afternoon, I’m speaking at a forum on a very different matter, although it is also one which has long been neglected by the federal government. It is a forum on the issues surrounding the Same-Sex: Same Entitlements Report recently released by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission. This forum is being held at the OJW Room at QUT’s Gardens Point Campus from 3pm. I have been working for my entire time in the Senate to try to ensure equal rights in this area, and while it’s frustrating not to have achieved this yet, we are nearly there. The public support is widespread, and I will be very surprised if the discrimination has not been substantially removed from federal laws by the end of 2008 – although only if people keep publicly pushing for this long overdue change to be made.