The Victorian Liberal MP Wendy Lovell has come under fierce criticism for saying there is “no point” in having social housing in wealthy areas “where the children cannot mix with others”.
Lovell, who pointed to low-income families’ inability to afford “the latest in sneakers and iPhones” as a reason children would struggle to fit in, made the comments on Wednesday during debate in the state parliament’s upper house about a Greens bill to set a target to end homelessness in Victoria by 2030.
The former housing minister said the most vulnerable Victorians must be given access to long-term social housing, which is integrated with both public and private residents.
“It only creates stigma if people can see that difference, so we need to make sure that [social housing] properties are not as identifiable as they have been in the past,” Lovell told the Legislative Council.
“We also need to make sure that we put those properties in areas where families are accepted and where families can flourish.
“There is no point putting a very low income, probably welfare-dependent family in the best street in Brighton where the children cannot mix with others or go to the school with other children, or where they do not have the same ability to have the latest in sneakers and iPhones.”
Lovell said social housing residents need to “actually fit into a neighbourhood” so that they can “have a good life”.
Labor MP Mark Gepp, who grew up in public housing in the 1960s, in his speech described the comments as “bloody disgraceful”. It prompted an interjection from Lovell and another fiery response from Gepp.
“Everybody in this place heard it loudly and clearly … ‘Oh, we don’t want the kids to be teased because they have got a Samsung phone instead of an iPhone’,”그는 말했다.
"잘, bollocks to that, because your position on the socio-economic ladder should never determine your participation in this society under any circumstances. Shame on you for suggesting that it should.”
The Victorian opposition leader, Matthew Guy, said on Thursday that Lovell “means well” but her wording was clumsy.
“[그녀] made some exceptionally clumsy remarks in talking about stigmatisation,” he told reporters outside parliament.
“As a former housing minister, she certainly tried to find the best intention. It hasn’t certainly been put that way. Social housing in my view should go where there are services available to people who need them.”
Premier Daniel Andrews dismissed Guy’s claim that Lovell had been “clumsy” with her words.
“No she didn’t… you can’t say those things then double down on it,”그는 말했다.
“I reject, in the clearest terms, the Liberal Party’s view that poor people should be kept poor and poor people should be kept away. That is wrong. That is fundamentally wrong.”
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam described Lovell’s comments as offensive, saying they perpetuate misguided stereotypes about who lives in social housing.
“People who live in public and social housing are all of us. My grandparents lived in public housing. They are members of parliament who spoke so passionately and eloquently yesterday about growing up in public housing," 그녀가 말했다.
“They’re the tens of thousand of Victorians on the waiting list for housing who are locked out of the exorbitant housing market. It is an issue that affects every one of us.”
The housing minister, Richard Wynne, said Lovell’s comments were “an appalling example of the Liberal Party’s postcode snobbery”.
“Matthew Guy should step in and apologise, not just on behalf of the Liberal Party, he should apologise to all those who have lived in public housing,” Wynne said in a statement.
에 2017, the Victorian government announced it was building 10 homes for people sleeping rough on South Road in Brighton, one of Melbourne’s wealthiest suburbs.
Brighton MP James Newbury at the 2018 election announced a Coalition government would close the facility and sell the land.