Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Senator Jan McLucas and Labor Senator Helen Polley today called on Liberal Member for Bass Andrew Nikolic to clarify his position on affordable housing and to stop taking credit for Labor policies.
The Liberal MP was spotted recently cutting the ribbon on 180 new student apartments at the University of Tasmania’s Newnham campus, delivered as part of Labor’s National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).
The opening of these apartments was part of a program constructing a total of 770 apartments across Tasmania and Mr Nikolic was sufficiently impressed to suggest that this development exhibited the “…strength can be drawn from the University working in partnership with Government.”
The National Rental Affordability Scheme was axed in the Abbott Government’s recent budget.
NRAS played an important role in boosting affordable housing stock across the country and is widely regarded by state and territory governments, industry groups and the housing and homelessness sectors as a highly successful and valued program, targeted at low income people who cannot access public housing and are in housing stress.
“Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are making savage cuts to affordable housing, all while they move forward with their gold plated paid parental leave scheme that will pay millionaires to have a baby,” Senator McLucas said.
“This leaves our most vulnerable Australians even further behind.”
Senator Polley was quick to point out that this was just the latest episode of Mr Nikolic seeking to boost his own popularity by taking credit for Labor policies. The week before last he was caught red-handed in the House of Representatives claiming that responsibility for a federal Labor mountain bike project.
He even went so far as to thank the Dorset Council for working with him “in recent years to ensure that this exciting project is realised”, despite the fact that he only took office after last year’s September federal election.
But it gets even worse. In December last year after only being in the job for a few months he failed to come clean on grants for five projects under the government’s “Community Development Grants program. The $3 million redevelopment of the North Bank Precinct in Launceston was actually part of Labor’s Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Plan, a detail that must have slipped his mind.
“This just shows what Mr Nikolic is all about, here is a man who would turn up at the opening of an envelope if he saw an opportunity to promote himself,” Senator Polley said.
“He was quite happy to turn up to another ribbon cutting ceremony and take credit for 180 new apartments for University students in need of unit accommodation, but he is suddenly silent when it turned out that the NRAS program itself would be cut under the Budget.”
“This is yet another example of Mr Nikolic not standing up for the people of Bass and preferring to toe the Liberal Party line.”
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