On February 15th 2023, I moved detailed amendments to the government's National Supply and Affordability Council Bill, and gave the following speech:
The Greens have a series of concerns with the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council and a series of amendments to seek to address some of these concerns.
Firstly, we want to amend the bill to ensure that parliament can request research from the national supply and affordability council. We don't think it's adequate that only the minister can request research or that it seeks to conduct research independently. We think that this should be a research body. If it is going to be independent, then having the minister, or the government, be the only arm of parliament able to request research seems inappropriate.
Secondly, we want to make sure that the board is actually genuinely representative of Australian society. So we are moving to amend the bill to ensure that the Housing Supply and Affordability Council must include representatives from the social housing and homelessness sectors and must include representation from First Nations people, housing organisations, low income households, people with lived experience of homelessness, and social housing residents. We also want to make sure that it cannot include individuals with significant links to property development or to the banking sector. The Greens were disappointed to see the interim council include a previous former CEO of Mirvac, a major property developer. We believe that property developers as well as bankers already wield far too much power over the political system. Indeed, in my home state of Queensland, property developer donations have been prohibited precisely because of the undue influence that they wield over the political process. Again, we have defenders of the property developers over there. I'm sure that members of your electorate would be keen to hear about that.
Third, we want to make sure that we enshrine a target in the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council and that includes making sure that it reports on meeting the target of 10 per cent of the housing stock as social housing by 2050 in line with our amendments to the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill. We also want to ensure that housing data and analysis, with the exception of direct advice to government produced by the supply and affordability council, is made publicly available. We think that is entirely consistent with a council that is meant to be leading and providing independent advice to the public and to government. We think it is only right that a taxpayer funded institution such as this one reports to members of the public as well, not just to members of the government.
We also want to make sure that the board membership, as I have mentioned before, includes a broad representation from across society. We think these are reasonable amendments. Including First Nations people on the board, including people with lived experience of homelessness, poverty and housing stress is entirely consistent with getting a good outcome and good advice for the government from the public. We think it is perfectly reasonable to assume that solving the housing crisis is not going to be achieved by relying on the advice of people who created the housing crisis in the first place. The enormous profits that are generated in our current housing system towards the big banks and property developers is part of the problem. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia just reported a record $5.3 billion profit, partly off the back of accruing enormous profits off mortgage holders going into further and further financial stress. We think a supply and affordability council independent of the financial interests that are currently making people 's lives so miserable is entirely reasonable and we strongly compel the government to accept these amendments.