New ministers for renting, housing and homes in NSW
Leo Patterson Ross • 20/12/2021
Premier Dominic Perrottet has today announced a new cabinet of Ministers for NSW. The line-up includes a number of revamped ministerial portfolios, so there may be some amendments to the below once the ‘machinery of government’ changes are released and we see exactly what all of the below means. For now here is an initial guide to the renting-related portfolios!
Minister for Fair Trading
Our new Minister with responsibility for the laws around renting in NSW is Eleni Petinos MP as the Minister for Fair Trading. These renting laws include the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 as well as the Residential Land Lease Communities Act and laws covering real estate licencing and practice, boarding houses, and general consumer law. This position was known before the cabinet change as the Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation. Some parts of that portfolio have moved around but we believe the renting laws will have remained in Fair Trading as they have since the mid-1990s.
Minister Petinos has a background in the law, specifically taxation law before entering Parliament in 2015 as the Member for Miranda. In Parliament she has served as a Parliamentary Secretary for Transport and Roads and the Chair of Committees on Transport and Infrastructure amongst other roles.
We look forward to working with Minister Petinos to ensure the renting laws in NSW are fit for purpose in 2022 and beyond. We’ve learned many lessons from COVID including the need to make sure rented homes are stable homes that are safe and affordable for the community. We also look forward to working with the Minister to ensure that ongoing funding of the services is set at a level that meets the needs of the community!
We’d like to thank outgoing Minister Kevin Anderson MP for his work in residential tenancies and congratulate him on his appointment to the vital portfolios of Lands and Water as well as keeping Hospitality and Racing which have moved across from his former portfolio. We didn’t always agree with the government decisions made, but there was genuine opportunity to communicate and consider the solutions we were putting forward.
A particularly significant milestone was the additional funding that the Tenants Advice and Advocacy Services received to help tenants of NSW, including $1million in a permanent boost to the program, the first in nearly 20 years. That was on top of nearly $6million over two and a half years of temporary COVID support. The numbers of people facing increasingly complex and heartbreaking situations around their renting homes were never higher, and every second of support from tenant advocates was and is sorely needed.
Of course that support was rightly dwarfed by the support direct to tenants under the Residential Tenancy Support Payment of $630million (allowing us a timely reminder that applications for that support need to be in by the end of the year!).
Minister for Families and Communities
Our new Minister with responsibility for the people management of public and community housing in NSW is Natasha MacLaren-Jones as the Minister for Families and Communities. The Minister has responsibility for management of the waiting list, the rules around lease lengths, income assessment and support for people in private rental or experiencing homelessness. They are the main point of contact for people living in public housing, and manage the contracts and registration of community housing.
Minister MacLaren-Jones has served in Parliament for 10 years and has had a range of responsibilities over that time. Prior to Parliament she also had a varying career from nursing to government consulting and as a federal political staffer.
We look forward to working with Minister MacLaren-Jones on a range of issues to ensure the dignity of people living in public and community housing is upheld. We always ask that tenants in public and community housing are listened to when they share their views or asked to share their thoughts, and respected as experts in their own lives.
We thank outgoing Minister Alister Henskens for his work since May this year, including on a range of support to the social services sector during the Delta outbreak.
Minister for Homes
Anthony Roberts has moved into the portfolios of Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes. Minister Roberts had previously held the Fair Trading portfolio and has been in Parliament since 2003. It is not yet clear what the shift in language from Minister for Housing, which Minister Melinda Pavey had previously held, will mean. At this stage we assume that Minister Roberts will be responsible for the management of public housing stock through the NSW Land and Housing Corporation.
However, a Minister for Homes could be a very interesting proposition. In NSW we have one of the most diverse set of portfolios with varying responsibilities for ensuring the people of NSW are housed appropriately, where and how they need it. We have four portfolios covering different aspects of the sector and not always approaching issues in a joined up way. A single unified point could come with significant advantages to policy discussions, chiefly by highlighting the importance of a home. We look forward to finding out more about what this portfolio means and will update as we learn!
As a community legal centre and frequently assisting people as users of the courts and Tribunals of NSW we also recognise the Attorney-General as an important portfolio. We congratulate Mark Speakman on continuing in his role which he has held now for more than four years.
Minister Speakman has maintained open and ongoing communication with the community legal sector for many years now and we look forward to working for a more just society. In particular we'll be looking forward to the results of the review of the legislation for the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal and an ongoing discussion about ensuring the Tribunal is a fair and just place to resolve renting disputes.