During Parliamentary Budget Estimates on Tuesday 2 August 2022, I asked questions about the disposal of publicly owned property held under the Government's Employee Housing Scheme.
You can read the answers below or in the official Queensland Parliament Record of Proceedings (Hansard).
Mr BERKMAN: I have one question for the director-general. I note that there is some welcome funding in the budget for new housing and upgrades to current stock in the government employee housing scheme. Director-General, were any properties that were once owned under this scheme sold on the private market in the last financial year? If so, how many?
Mr Martyn: I thank the honourable member for the question. Our approach to the management of the government employee housing stock generally is to dispose of stock where it is no longer needed in order to fund a reinvestment. We undertook a major review of that funding model. What that review found was that in many cases the location of the government housing stock was in areas where there was not a functioning private market—that is, small country towns where the idea of selling to reinvest did not actually work. That is why the advice was provided to government for a significant new equity injection into the government employee housing stock, which is what has been delivered in the budget. We will continue from time to time to sell old houses. Frankly, in some places the average age of a house is 50 years and they are dilapidated. Sometimes a better way to utilise our stock is to sell it and actually invest in new housing stock. The significant investment by the government sets up a multiyear program of growth in government employee housing for frontline workers in communities across Queensland, particularly in rural and remote communities.
Mr BERKMAN: Is there any policy or process in place to see that housing stock owned by the government under that scheme is maintained in government hands for the purpose of social housing, given how drastically we know it is needed across the state at the moment? My apologies, more specifically I should say public housing as opposed to social housing.
Mr Martyn: I am advised that before a government employee house is sold it is offered to the department of housing to see if they can use it for their stock. Where it is disposed, it probably does not meet anybody’s needs in some of these communities.
Mr BERKMAN: To the first question though, are you able to provide a number in terms of the number of houses that were sold in the previous financial year?
Mr Martyn: That is probably going to require a considerable amount of work to get, but I am happy to come back—
Mr BERKMAN: Is it a question that you could take on notice?
CHAIR: The minister would have to take it on notice. It is a question you can ask in the normal parliamentary sitting though.
Mr BERKMAN: Indeed. I have a long list of questions to ask in normal parliamentary sittings so if there is a way for estimates to perform its function here and allow me to get an answer to a question—
CHAIR: Do not tell me how it works. I have been doing this a little while and I appreciate that.
Mr de BRENNI: Through you, Chair, I may be able to assist. I can commit that the director-general will provide written advice to the member in relation to that. I think I can see what you are getting at—a question about whether or not housing stock is disposed that could otherwise be used for social housing. I think you indicated that.
Mr BERKMAN: Yes.
Mr de BRENNI: The director-general has indicated that this occurs in a market where there is not a viable use for it for other purposes and it is offered to the department of housing in the first instance. Many of these communities are places which have seen significant economic change. If the member is satisfied, the director-general will provide that advice to you in writing.
Mr BERKMAN: Sure.
CHAIR: It was not taken on notice but the director-general will get that information to you.