The Liberals need to invest a sizeable portion of its projected half a billion dollars in GST windfall into the supply of social and affordable housing if we’re to provide secure homes for desperate Syrian refugees as well as the almost 3000 Tasmanians currently on the housing waiting list.

If Premier Will Hodgman is serious about housing an expected intake of 500 people fleeing war torn Syria in public housing properties, his government will need to reverse its funding neglect of the portfolio.

At March this year, there were 2759 Tasmanians waiting for public housing, an increase of nearly 600 applicants on the waiting list in the last year of the Labor Green Government.  This can be sheeted home to the new Liberal Government starving Housing Tasmania of funds and failing to invest appropriately in increasing the sustainable supply of affordable housing.

It is important that this isn’t seen as an either-or situation.  We need to open our arms to desperate refugees, to provide speedy processing and housing in the community and we need to ensure homes are provided for Tasmanians languishing on the waiting list.

There will need to be a range of housing options in place for new arrivals fleeing terror and hardship in Syria and Iraq - these will include private rentals, community and social housing.  We can do this but if we want to do it well and retain our new arrivals in Tasmania, this government needs to invest more in affordable housing supply.

As a big-hearted community, we have demonstrated in the past and to this day that we can be a welcoming new home for refugees who in turn, contribute enormously to our community and our economy.

There is a massive GST windfall sitting in the Treasury vault.  The Premier needs to get it out the door to ensure we can provide quality, affordable housing for people in need and that we are planning ahead for new arrivals, who will come here desperate for a home.