Housing plan in Victoria slammed by Project host

A plan by the Victorian government to knock down 44 public housing blocks has been slammed on The Project.

State premier Daniel Andrews teamed up with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to announce last week the towers in Melbourne would be demolished and rebuilt.

It comes as Mr Albanese sells his ambitious vision to build 1.2 million new homes within five years.

Under the government, plan the towers, which were built in the 1960s, would be replaced with three times as many energy efficient apartments.

However, a new report argues the government could save millions by renovating instead of demolishing. Other vocal critics of the project include Project host Hamish Macdonald, who said it made no sense to destroy homes amid a housing crisis.

“It’s interesting because every time we talk about Australia’s housing crisis, whenever you hear from an expert, the end point they say is it’s because there’s not enough supply,” Macdonald said. “We have to make sure there’s enough land being released, more homes being built, more apartments being built.

“It seems to defy logic to me that given that we know that, that the answer that the Victorian government has identified is to knock down 44 apartment blocks where people currently live. It just doesn’t quite seem to make sense.

“I know there’s nuance to the argument but it’s hard to see how that in itself solves the huge problem that we as a nation are facing.”

Victorian Public Tenants Association CEO Katelyn Butterss said she was also concerned, and wanted to ensure the homes ended up public housing homes.

“There’s no reason to be selling our very valuable public land to the property development industry,” she said.

“I’m aware of a figure that said there would be a 10 per cent increase in the number of social housing available. Social housing is actually an umbrella term right now, there are public housing homes and we want to make sure that they stay public housing homes.

“Public housing is a better option when you look at the affordability of rent … access to homes off the waiting list and public housing has a greater security of tenure.”

Concerned residents say they don’t know what they are meant to do next.

“Over 20 years I live in the high rises, it’s a very strong community. Some of the residents grew up here, married here and retired here,” resident Ruth Eyakem said.

“What is the future, I know we’re going to go somewhere else to live, but where? Are we going to be the same community?”

Underfunding has been an issue, with almost 70,000 people on the public housing list.

Regarding the apartment, Ms Butterss said there have been temperature issues fluctuating from extreme heat to cold, with lifts often being broken and people not feeling safe in communal laundries.

Meanwhile, Mr Albanese praised Mr Andrews for keeping the blocks as public housing.

“An option of a less visionary government than this bloke’s would be [to] flog it off, knock it over. Private developers would benefit,” he said.

“I campaigned against it in places like Millers Point in Sydney, where dilapidated places got sold off, flogged off to the private sector. Buildings like the Sirius Building, the famous building next to the Harbour Bridge, that was purpose built for people with disabilities – sold off.

“What this is about is giving people housing close to health facilities, where they can walk to the city, close to education facilities, giving them that security. And it’s just the first of a range of projects that we’ll be doing in partnership here with the Victorian government.”

Victoria has been funded to deliver 769 homes as part of the $2bn housing accelerator fund, announced in June.

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