Monday, February 11, 2013


Monday, February 11th, 2013
By Ross Smith, for the
Rimfire Review
The announcement of a granting of amnesty to a small number of public housing tenants announced on Sunday 20th January 2013 marks a misguided day in the history of the administration of public housing in NSW.

This ‘initiative’ is a copy of the move made by the incoming Queensland government within days of the last election in Queensland. The new Queensland government decided to show the electorate that it was a responsible economic manager. To do so it needed to portray itself as being tough on those deemed to be robbing the state.
Public housing was costing the Queensland government $1 million per fortnight. Instead of identifying and resolving the inefficiencies in the management and administration systems for the public housing portfolio, the decision was made to demonise the public housing tenant body by portraying them as bludgers on the state purse.
The reason for doing so was that they were a soft target with very limited capacity to defend themselves against a campaign designed to appeal to the revanchist mentality of the broader community. The bureaucracy on the other hand were comparatively articulate, had the capacity to defend themselves from attack, had the resources to do so, and were organised with access to legal services.
The outcome was the retrieval of a one-off $5 million, which was the equivalent of the operational losses incurred by ten weeks of the existing inefficient management and administration systems residing in the public housing portfolio.
There was no consideration of the ongoing costs transferred from one state department budget to other state department budgets arising from the associated creation of homelessness and the cost of servicing that homelessness. These costs to the state budget are ongoing and substantially higher than the cost of housing the homeless.
The NSW government chose to follow in Queensland’s footsteps. It felt that it also had to demonstrate its financial responsibility and management capabilities.
The NSW decision to grant amnesty to a small number of public housing tenants raises the question of what was the Department’s Fraud Investigation Unit doing for all the years it has been a charge on the Housing Budget, and how much it has cost the NSW government in foregone revenue. Similar questions arise around the management and administration of the department’s maintenance regime.
If the Minister’s intent was to show that the state’s funds were to be administered in accordance with the legislated requirements, perhaps a wiser choice would have been to grant amnesty to herself for her failure to give value for money to the people of NSW whilst administering a state owned asset to ensure it delivered its legislated outcomes. 
Ross Smith


  1. Hello Ross

    Thank you for your article. You deserve a 'Distinction' for your factual and well researched article above.
    Government Housing structure doesn't appear to operate their departments into efficient systems which enables administration efficiency, competent staff who are trained into efficient systems and the delivery of service in maintaining and managing the properties including tenants to a satisfactory standard that Housing should be accountable for.
    Instead there is neglect and chaos which is apparent when attempting to communicate needs for maintenance and service for tenant and property.
    I have resided in DOH for 35 years and in recent years I have witnessed and experienced attitudes and lack of concern about maintaining properties and general malaise from staff overall. The employees of this government body are well paid to manage and service the properties and the tenants with or without money but the attitude doesn't change...So long as they are receiving their pay packets and no effective systems are in place this will continue..Amnesty is not the answer..effective communication and systems need to put into practice to ensure the most cost efficient delivery of services..If this money was coming out of the managements pocket and not the tax payer we would see either ruins or a tightly run budget to maintain what they are responsible for.

  2. I am a housing tenant,i have a neighbor, more than 20 years her kids lived hear,grow up to adults, free and then said they moved out,that was a big fat lie, then suddenly,they came back with husband came brought from overseas jumped the waiting list of thousands of people who are needy sick and some in very bad life style waiting to move in housing property, healthy working person lives hear who jumped the line and came strait from over seas ,he pays rent housing does not care ,how about others right? neighbors many years lived hear free of rent now they start to pay? what a funny jock,evict them charge them this is fraud and should stopped years ago...exactly where were housing till now?

  3. The most ridiculous part of this so called "Amnesty" is where it promises;

    - You will not be evicted
    - You will not be made to pay back rent
    - You will not be prosecuted

    So what is the point of it?

    Is it any wonder so many people are breaching their tenancy agreements by having extra occupants if the only outcome every 5 years or so when an amnesty is held is that only those extra occupants MAY be asked to leave.


  4. I have had my fair share of hardships well before I fell through the system and ended up in public housing. Mysteriously, people get dobbed, in all 3 places that I have lived in public housing. I HATE people who rort systems because there are a lot of good people paying for it when &*%$ jumps the queue.

  5. i'd really like to know if ALL DOH tenants were sent this, or as I seem to have misunderstood a selected few. Can any one assist I would like to know as have been on waiting list for quite awhile now

    1. All NSW tenants were sent this letter - twice!

      What a waste of money - just the postage alone would have more than covered anything they recouped in back rent.

    2. And today we received a text message about the amnesty reminding us of the end date! Peronally I am sick of people who are not supposed to be living in housing scamming the system and causing all mannner of hell for the quiet and considerate neighbours.They are not tenants, these scamming free-loaders and damage property,break locks,deal dugs, stay up all night and scream and yell, fight. Good riddance I say. And that includes the scammers who sub-let their place or pretend they are related to somone so they can hide their relationship and rip off centrelink and housing! It's not fair on the majority of tenants who are good people, who do the right thing, who care for their home,neighbours and the community. Why should they/we suffer fear of violence/intimidation who clearly have nothing to lose and don't care about anyone, let alone themselves.

  6. Any ideas the government has including annoying us to hell with amnesty letters and text messages, that work to get the scum who shouldn't be in public housing, out, is well worth it. I agree with anonymous March 8. It is not a waste of money if you are affected by the garbage that shouldn't be in close proximity to the real tenants.

  7. what a waste of time...I have reported someone that is scamming doh, she lives on the pension with her 3 kids, and her partner whom works...she drives a nice brand new car cause he works, doh said unless centrelink notify them of her financial situation, then they cant do anything???? I dont get that...I reported this person twice and she still gets away with it!

    1. I've personally known two homes in doh that have late model bmw's in their driveways. One family I know very well have four businesses (takeaway shops) between them - FOUR!!! And keep on living in their four doh homes. It breaks my heart that people who can clearly afford to pay real rent are able to stay in these subsidised homes while there are people who truly need help waiting years and years.
      Couldn't be more inefficient/ apathetic/ corrupt it if tried.

  8. Qld again - We have a mp - Driscoll caught up in the scamming of Communities in Qld and Federally over communities issues in Redcliffe - homelessness etc - he is renting public housing what a joke

  9. I am hoping the Webmaster will best place this information so that public housing tenants can make use of it. More and more, the public housing offices recommend that tenants use this website for the purposes of effectively finding a houseswap. I applied for the Mutual Exchange program via HNSW, and my form was supposedly entered on their computers, 3 years ago. I have never received the letter with names and addresses with suitable swaps, yet my request is a common one of swapping a 3 bedroom place for a 2 bedroom place. Yet, at least one tenant has contacted me because I am on the printouts that should also come to me! Faced with disbelief from HNSW I took a copy of this to them. The problem was "fixed" and still no letters... I still have no resolution and have to push all of this all over again via HNSW complaints. Last but not least: To find the form to fill in for mutual exchange, you will be told to go to the Housing website. This is incorrect. You have to go to housingpathways website. To find this website, you will be told to go to "houseswap" website. By now HNSW should know this website by its name: ourhouseswap . Why can't they run their mutual exchange schmozzle as clearly and simply as this website that they keep on telling us to go to because theirs is disfunctional?!

    1. And don't forget that every time you fill in the Housing form - they are breaching your right to privacy.
      Read this

  10. I guess we all know of, or have heard of, a person who is rorting the system, and wish secretly they would get caught. When I was in Glebe, there was an old lady in a 4 bedroom house which her family grew up in. Long left, she had converted the bedrooms into boarding rooms for backpackers, and was taking in about $1500 per week in rent. She was caught, and evicted, and made to pay back all the money they could prove she'd earned.
    But, as the article says, a far greater rort in housing nsw is the incredible amount spent on maintenance, with NO or LITTLE follow up to see if work has been carried out etc. I have been old I was given a back fence three years ago, as there wasn't one between me and the neighbour behind. The work was paid for, and signed off, until I enquired a year later as to when it was to be constructed. I was told said fence had been built, and the tradespeople paid for the job. As far as the Dept. were concerned, I had a new fence. I still don't have a new fence, and I still haven't seen a housing client officer at my home to check. This is one incident costing about $4000. How many more are there. So, instead of trying to turn public opinion against us housos, perhaps an enquiry into mismanaged maintenance methods might expose a small windfall of badly spent finance. Just a thought.


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