If you thought that a Labor politician would be happy to know that the government was selling some commercial assets so that they would have more money for the homeless you’d be wrong if the name of that politician was Kevin Rudd.
This extraordinary fact came to light inadvertently, but courtesy of my co-panellist on Steve Austin’s Friday morning Party Games, Janine Walker.
Janine referred to a scrap between state housing minister Bruce Flegg and Kevin Rudd over homelessness that occurred via twitter. I was unaware of it at the time, but have since done my homework.
Janine said it was foolhardy to take on Kevin Rudd. Well, in those terms I guess I’m going to be foolhardy.
What happened was this.
Flegg, federal minister Brendan O’Connor and local member Rudd were all in attendance at the opening of Brisbane Common Ground, an innovative development to house 145 homeless funded by the federal and state governments, built at cost by Grocon (the same company at the centre of the CFMEU strike in Melbourne), and managed by local community group Micah.
There is a mix of commercial and residential in the development and it has some innovative sustainability features.
Functions like this are normally the place for public pleasantries with the niggles kept private. In this case niggles were served for main course.
Kevin Rudd took the opportunity of the available media to launch an attack on the state government for undertaking to sell three caravan parks they currently own, one of which used to be in his electorate.
He claimed that while almost 150 people were to be housed in the new development 150 were being “effectively evicted” at the other end of his electorate.
Unfortunately for Kevin, that is not true. What is worse the caravan parks he refers to are all commercial caravan parks full of tenants who are not housing commission tenants.
These parks are running at a loss, with the state government administrative arrangements costing $1.5 million on their own.
This means that money which should be going to the homeless (and there was a 20% jump in the number on the government’s books over the last twelve months) is being squandered on caravan parks which the public sector could run at a profit.
I’m not sure what “effectively evicted” means, surely you are evicted or you are not, but not one person has been evicted and the parks are to be sold as a going concern. There wouldn’t be much going, and undoubtedly a lot of concern, to the new owners, if they evicted the tenants.
This sums up the problems of federal Labor for me. Even the guy most Australians would like to see lead them can’t help himself and will climb over the welfare of the homeless just for a cheap media stunt. Whatever happened to the party that cares for the battler?
For the record I “door-stopped” Mr Rudd via Twitter today and asked him the following questions to which I have yet to receive any answers. Although to be fair, when you’re following 371,460 and being followed by 1,147,312, why would you even need to bother with TV cameras or a grumpy blogger who happens to be a constituent?
Questions via Twitter to Kevin Rudd
@KRuddMP Hi Kevin. Doing something for my blog on sale of caravan parks and you, Newmand and Flegg. Few things I’d like to know
@KRuddMP Did you say that people were being evicted?
@KRuddMP Are you aware that these caravan parks are fully commercial and not welfare housing?
@KRuddMP Are you aware that they are to be sold as going concerns?
@KRuddMP Are you aware that while commercial they run at a loss? Should housing commission money subsidise commercial operations?
@KRuddMP Anything else I should know?