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Housing bill amendements speech

On February 15th 2023, I moved detailed amendments to Labor's Housing Australia Future Fund bill, and gave the following speech:

Mr CHANDLER-MATHER: There is a series of amendments that the Greens will be moving to the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill today. This seems to have caused a remarkable amount of passion—

Honourable members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. There is far too much noise in the chamber. Out of respect, I will reset the clock for the member for Griffith.

Mr CHANDLER-MATHER: The Greens are moving a series of amendments to this deeply flawed Housing Australia Future Fund Bill. Again, it is genuinely remarkable to listen to all of this hatred from this side of the House. Let's go through the amendments. We want to introduce a target that 10 per cent of all Australian dwellings by 2050 are social housing. Let's be clear about this. How often have you said you want to negotiate in good faith? How often? Is this your idea of negotiating in good faith? It's your way or the highway, and your way is hundreds of thousands of people stuck on the social housing waitlists, homeless and unable to afford rental housing. How dare you. Let's have a little bit of a history lesson—

The SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume his seat. This debate will not continue in this manner. Members who are not in their seat are interjecting, which is highly disorderly, and could be named if this continues. The member for Griffith will be heard in silence. If members wish to interject, they shall do from their seats and their seats only.

Mr CHANDLER-MATHER: Thanks, Mr Speaker. The first amendment is to enshrine in the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill increasing the proportion of social housing to 10 per cent of Australian dwellings by 2050. This will ensure that the act is measured against total housing need and the progress it makes towards increasing social housing stock, rather than only against the government's own targets that, frankly, will see the shortage of social and affordable housing get worse. Australia, at its peak, achieved about a seven per cent target of social housing as a proportion of total housing stock. Best practice around the world in countries like Austria and the Netherlands have seen their proportion of social housing reach up to 20 per cent of total housing stock. A 10 per cent target by 2050 would require Australia to build over a million social and affordable homes Australia over that period. That is eminently achievable. It's been achieved by countries around the world. That's the only way we're going to tackle the social housing need.

I noted that the Prime Minister, in his remarks, said that people have been throwing figures around. The figure that we rely on has been produced by the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation, the government's own body, which said that we needed over 840,000 social and affordable homes over the next 20 years. That's not the Greens' figure. That's not the figure of any part of the housing sector. That is the government's own figure. That means that there need to be at least 45,000 social homes built every year to address the massive shortfall in housing over the next 20 years. That's the government's figure. So that amendment will ensure that that's actually enshrined in the Housing Australian Future Fund Bill.

The second thing we want to do—and it is remarkable that it caused so much passion on this side of the House—is actually define what 'affordable housing' is. I do not know how you can have a bill that purports to build affordable housing without defining what 'affordable housing' is. The definition that we want inserted in the bill is to define affordable housing as:

(a) rental housing; and

(b) housing that costs no more than 30% of income for the bottom 40% of households by income.

There are some out there who try to define 'affordable housing', and certainly we've seen this from property developers, and you can be sure that under this bill, if it is unamended, this is what will happen. Developers will claim, 'When we offer a rental apartment at 80 per cent of market rent, that's affordable.' Of course, that is completely inadequate when rents have already gone up over 20 per cent, if not more, over the last 12 months alone and recent reports in the media suggest that we're actually due for even higher rent increases going into this year. Ensuring that we have a definition of 'affordable housing' in the bill ensures that this bill actually works towards building social and affordable housing, not some dodgy property-developer-led rubbish about 80 per cent of the market rate that actually does nothing to affect or deal with the housing crisis.

In the third amendment, we move to limit recipients of grants from the fund to governments or non-profit organisations or partnerships that governments or non-profit organisations are members of. This is crucial to ensure that property developers don't come along, access money in this fund and claim they're going to build so-called affordable housing when, in reality, there will be public funds going towards the profits of property developers.

Fourth—and again it is remarkable that this has caused so much passion—we're asking that the responsible minister be required to report six-monthly to parliament on the funding, outlining: the housing outcomes achieved by type and location; progress of housing projects not yet completed; details on grants allocated, including recipient, type of recipient, details of housing project, and decision-making criteria; reporting on money allocated by the COAG— (Time expired)

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