Thursday, 1 March 2018
Treasury Laws Amendment (National Housing and Homelessness Agreement) Bill 2017; Second Reading
You might remember the lead-up to the 2017 budget last year when the newspapers were trumpeting that housing was going to be the centrepiece of the budget, that the Treasurer was going to stun us with initiatives and that we were going to finally deal with the housing crisis that is enveloping the nation. That went on for a week or two until obviously something happened in the cabinet and they had one of their little scrag fights and they realised that they actually weren't prepared to do any serious reform and deal with the demand side of the equation—which, as we know, is the key issue within the federal government's province. And then there was nothing. Well, actually, not nothing; there was a series of tiny little measures which really won't do very much at all to address the problem—it certainly wasn't a budget centrepiece—and this bill, the Treasury Laws Amendment (National Housing and Homelessness Agreement) Bill 2017, is one of those.
I think the government's political strategy or parliamentary strategy—or maybe both—seems to be that, if you scatter around the Notice Paper enough teeny-tiny bills with 'housing' in the title, maybe people will think that you're doing something about housing. This is one of those bills. You can tell what they really want to talk about and what they just hope will kind of disappear and not get remarked upon by the number of speakers listed. So we've had in the last half hour the circus of having no government speakers and then we were served up one honourable muppet to read out some stuff that the minister's office has given them.