Tenancy service funding cut
A GOVERNMENT decision to axe the Tenant Advice and Advocacy Service will leave Gladstone short on a vital service, says a key advocacy group.
Tenants' Union of Queensland statewide co-ordinator Penny Carr said the decision by Campbell Newman's government would damage efforts to protect tenants' rights in Gladstone and other resource towns in Queensland.
The decision will result in the service's Gladstone office being downgraded in October and abolished in 2014.
"There is no other program like the TAAS service," she said.
Housing and Public Works Minister Dr Bruce Flegg announced the decision on Tuesday, saying the money would instead be channelled to social housing programs.
"The (TAAS) program has been jointly funded by the Queensland Government and the Residential Tenancies Authority for a number of years and has received more than $20 million over the past four years," he said.
"We can put this money to better and more direct use by building more social and affordable housing across Queensland."
Ms Carr delivered a brutal assessment of the decision.
"Maybe the minister doesn't understand the program as well as he could," she said.
She said whereas the RTA provided information about laws, rights and responsibilities, the tenant's advocacy service provided advice as well.
Ms Carr said she understood the government's desire to put more funding into social housing, but that thinking was flawed because the funds came from interest collected on tenant's bonds, which are held by the RTA.
"These services are sometimes the difference between having a home and being homeless," she said.
Gladstone Regional Mayor Gail Sellers said the TAAS outlet in Gladstone had been fully booked over the past 18 months, showing the demand for the advocacy service.
Tenants and landlords with problems can make an appointment to meet an advisor and form strategies to resolve issues.
Cr Sellers said the government would honour its contract to fund the Gladstone office until 2014.
She said she would wait to find out what were the replacement services before criticising the decision.
The TAAS program provides some funding to the Tenants' Union, as well as 26 local and regional tenant advice outlets
Gladstone's TAAS office will close in 2014