House debates

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Grievance Debate


6:30 pm

Photo of Adam BandtAdam Bandt (Melbourne, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

It's time to end the handouts and ensure that everyone has a secure place to live. To achieve that, we need a rent freeze now, we need to build more affordable and public homes, and we need to do that now.

Labor does not care about renters. What's worse than doing nothing? It is making the rental crisis worse. The gall of the members of this government, who brag about their supposed action on the housing crisis! Look at what they have done. They have lifted rent assistance by a measly $1.12 a day. That is $1.12 a day while rents in capital cities are growing 10 times faster than that, and there is nothing for the over 5½ million renters who don't get rent assistance. Yet they crow, skiting of the fact that they've done more, supposedly, than any government in the last 10 years, as if just being a bit better than Scott Morrison is the bar that we should be setting. That is not something to be proud of; that is a joke.

Rents are going through the roof. Real wages are going backwards at the fastest rate on record. More and more people can't keep their heads above water. Yet this government likes to pat itself on the back and given itself an achievement award for giving some renters about $1 a day. Labor likes to say that no-one will be left behind, but renters are being left behind. Labor is choosing not to address the rental crisis. Labor has chosen to spend $313 billion on stage 3 tax cuts for the wealthy. Labor has chosen to spend $368 billion on nuclear submarines. And Labor has chosen to give $74 billion to property moguls with three or more properties who are determined to drive up the cost of housing. That is $74 billion to push the cost of housing up out of reach of first home buyers and push up rents so that more and more people will be unable to have the basic security which comes with having a roof over your head.

Last week in the Victorian parliament, Labor joined with Moira Deeming to block an inquiry into the rental crisis. It bent over backwards to deny an opportunity to find out what's causing the rental crisis and what could be done right now about it. One renter sitting in the public gallery shouted, 'What a disgrace!' when Labor did all it could to stand in the way of parliamentary action to back renters.

We need a rent freeze now. Labor has controlled the cost of electricity, calling together parliaments from across the country and recalling this parliament for an emergency sitting. Government should start doing with rents what it did with power bills. We can control the cost of rents. Labor can drive this through National Cabinet, holding every seat at the table, except for Tasmania. We've had rent controls before, and we could have rent controls again. Rent control is a reasonable response to this crisis. It is unreasonable to expect a young person to be able to afford the rent when a landlord lifts it by $200 per week. It is outrageous to expect a nurse or a midwife, being paid what they are, to then be able to afford to rent in one of our capital cities. It is not okay to expect anyone to stand in the cold with 50 or 60 other people and beg to rent an overpriced and poorly maintained rental property.

The Prime Minister claims that rent controls are fairy dust, but he is wrong. Leave no-one behind. The Greens are the only party for renters. We are the only people who want to ensure that every person can afford a roof over their head. We are for the renters, and we are going to fight for the renters. We're not going to fight for the people who have scores of investment homes and keep giving them more money to push up prices and rents. We are for the people who are struggling to keep their heads above water. Labor might not care about renters, but you'd better believe that the Greens do.


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