The Turnbull government’s plan to tackle homelessness would gouge social housing tenants and make them even poorer, welfare groups say, the New Daily reports.
Rent and utility bills would be deducted directly from a social housing tenant’s Centrelink payments under the proposed compulsory Automatic Rent Deduction Scheme (ARDS).
Welfare payments would also be automatically docked for damage to social housing – despite evidence the state housing departments unfairly pursue tenants for repair bills.
Joni Gear, legal project officer at the National Security Rights Network, told The New Daily the proposal is “just social management of poor people”.
“It’s really disempowering. It again targets social security recipients in a way that we think is discriminatory, and it’s also quite punitive,” she said.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the scheme had the support of all states and territories – which are responsible for social housing – except Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT.
But The New Daily can reveal Queensland is also not on board, with Housing Minister Mick de Brenni describing the proposal as “counter-productive”.
Victoria confirmed it would reject the scheme, while NSW and South Australia both confirmed the state governments would support the measure.
Once a state or territory adopts the ARDS – if the legislation is passed – social housing providers within each jurisdiction could then opt into the scheme. The providers would then decide which tenants have automatic deductions.
Ms Gear said tenants would likely end up being forced onto the scheme, which would be “part and parcel of every social housing tenancy agreement”.
There is no cap on how much could be deducted from a person’s Centrelink payment and, theoretically, someone’s entire payment could be wiped.