On Thursday, the Government introduced the legislation to establish Housing Australia Future Fund, Housing Australia and the Housing Supply and Affordability Council. Returns from the Future Fund will be invested in social and affordable housing via Housing Australia and via the Minister directly. Spending by the Fund on housing will be capped at a maximum of $500 million each year, with no indexation, which means a real term cut in housing funding every year. The Greens are reserving their position on the legislation package, based on concerns about the adequacy of the Fund and its operations.
The Government has claimed the fund will finance the construction of 30,000 social and affordable homes over five years, which actually see the shortage of social and affordable housing continue to grow. Australia has a shortage of 640,000 social and affordable homes. That shortage will grow by 75,000 in 5 years.
With the Coalition yet to announce a position, there’s a good possibility the Greens will end up in the balance of power. The Greens will be discussing specific negotiating asks in a Party Room meeting on Monday.
The bills are due to be debated next week.
Lines attributable to Max Chandler-Mather MP, Greens spokesperson for housing and homelessness:
I’ve made it very clear to the Government in initial discussions that the Greens will work in good faith to improve this bill, but without a substantial increase in ambition we cannot simply wave it through.
As it stands, Labor's housing bill will see spending on social and affordable housing cut in real terms every year, and the shortage of social and affordable housing get worse.
Labor wants to invest $10 billion in the stock market through the Future Fund and only invest the returns on housing. This isn’t a $10 billion investment in housing, it’s a $10 billion gamble on the stock market, with a $500 million per year spending cap on housing.
You don’t fix the housing crisis by locking in real terms cuts to housing spending every year and subjecting it to the ups and downs of the stock market.
The Greens have made their priorities clear. We want to see a housing plan that actually starts to tackle the scale of the crisis; not one that will see the shortage of public and affordable housing get worse, do nothing for renters and lock in real cuts to housing funding.
Labor has a clear choice: work with the Greens to improve this bill and actually make a dent in the housing crisis, or seek the support of the Coalition and sell out the millions of people crying out for public and affordable housing.