Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) safe and affordable housing is central to the security and dignity of all Australians;
(b) the Government has committed to an ambitious housing reform agenda, which will boost the supply of all housing, including more public and social housing, more affordable housing, more homes to rent and more homes to buy;
(c) Australia's housing challenges did not happen overnight and cannot be solved by one government alone; and
(d) the Government is working with state, territory and local governments to deliver better housing outcomes including the work being undertaken through the National Cabinet;
(2) acknowledges the measures agreed to at National Cabinet, including:
(a) federal funding of $3 billion through the New Homes Bonus to help incentivise states and territories to build more homes where people need them;
(b) a $500 million Housing Support Program for initiatives to help kickstart housing supply, including connecting essential services and amenities to support new housing development and building planning capability;
(c) federal funding of $2 billion through the Social Housing Accelerator to deliver thousands of social homes across Australia;
(d) the National Planning Reform Blueprint with planning, zoning, land release and other measures to improve housing supply and affordability;
(e) A Better Deal for Renters to harmonise and strengthen renters' rights across Australia; and
(f) the National Housing Accord that will support planning and zoning reforms to deliver 10,000 affordable rental homes over five years from 2024, to be matched by the states and territories; and
(3) further acknowledges that:
(a) after a decade of little action, the Government is delivering measures to turn around the housing challenges in Australia today; and
(b) there is more work to do and we need governments at all levels to work together.
Bridging the intergenerational divide is one of the defining issues in this defining decade, and that means addressing two critical questions. One is on climate justice and the other is on housing affordability and access for Australians. These are two issues that were brought to my attention during the campaign, and they are still live issues.
On the climate action front, our energy transformation is well underway. That is evidenced by the fact that we have gone from 33 per cent renewable energy last year to 40 per cent this year as we accelerate to 82 per cent in 2030.
Housing, however, is a much more complex issue and one that we inherited due to a decade of inaction under those opposite. They essentially vacated the space. We understand that housing is foundational to Australians. It is foundational to our security and wellbeing. There is simply no opportunity to progress either economically or socially without a roof over one's head. However, new housing dwellings actually peaked in 2016 and have been declining ever since. Powerful demographic shifts have happened in that period of time. We've seen an increase in the population. We've also seen, since the COVID pandemic, a shift towards households of smaller size, and we've seen a new generation of young people who have now grown up and are wanting, justifiably, to live in places that are near to their work. So we have essentially created a perfect storm—the lowest level of social and affordable housing we've seen in a decade. A decade ago it was 4.8 per cent, and it is now 4.1 per cent. It was actually Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's National Rental Affordability Scheme, which was then axed by the Abbott government in 2014. A lot of those homes have been retired since then, and it has only added acutely to the housing shortage we have inherited.
However, the Albanese government understands that the cure for renters who are facing plunging vacancy rates and surging rents—they've increased at least 14 per cent in Melbourne in the year until March of this year. The cure for homeless Australians—and, according to the 2021 census, there were at least 122,000 Australians who were homeless. The cure for workers, particularly women and children, fleeing domestic violence and the cure for those at risk of homelessness, those workers who are in precarious jobs—loopholes that we are trying to address in the lower house. The cure for all these groups is actually supply, and that is something we in the Albanese government are laser focused on.
This is evidenced also by my own community members who attended a housing roundtable with the housing minister. These are some of the things they said: 'You can walk through any major shopping strip and there are homeless people begging for money. These people, it would appear, have multiple problems. If we could improve these people's lives and get them secure housing, we would all benefit.' I am concerned about the level of homelessness in Higgins, and I have seen it worsen over the last five years. The ongoing housing crisis in Australia is a pressing and urgent matter, with thousands of people, families and single mothers and the elderly struggling to find affordable housing. We hear these calls, and this is why we have a broad and sweeping housing agenda, which comes at a problem of this magnitude from different angles, as it should.
We have stretched out our National Housing Accord target to 1.2 million homes that will be well located and funded from 2024 onwards. We have brought together institutional investors and all three tiers of government to solve this problem. We recently announced the $3 billion new homes bonus to incentivise the states to build these additional 200,000 homes. We have a $500 million housing support program to ensure that we create the infrastructure, the sanitation and the roads to support these new builds. When we realised we had a surplus in the budget we announce a $2 billion social housing accelerator to build an additional 4,000 social rental homes in the next two years. And, pleasingly, today, the Prime Minister and the housing minister announced that the Housing Australia Future Fund will be passed, thanks to support from the Greens and the crossbench in the upper house. This is long overdue. It's an indictment on those opposite that they have not supported this bill, while they have the temerity to come into this House and criticise us for actually doing something on housing. That's exactly what the Albanese government has been doing. (Time expired)