House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Private Members' Business


4:58 pm

Photo of Sally SitouSally Sitou (Reid, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

What an interesting contribution from the member for Deakin. If I were him, I would probably be hiding in shame, given my track record as the former minister for housing and homelessness. He failed to do anything in the nine years that the coalition government was in power.

We are now in one of the most unaffordable housing positions this country has ever seen. That is because of successive governments' failure, at the federal and New South Wales state levels, to adequately plan, fund and build housing.

The housing pressures on families across my electorate are serious. There is a high proportion of renters and mortgage holders in the electorate of Reid. Around 40 per cent of renters there are experiencing rental stress. Around a quarter of mortgage holders are experiencing mortgage stress. Increases in rents and interest rates have a disproportionate impact on my community.

A recent report by the Committee for Sydney found Sydney is second only to Hong Kong for housing unaffordability, with an average home costing more than 13 times the median salary. How did we get to this point? It hasn't always been this way. When my parents came to this country more than four decades ago, they worked hard and were able to buy a home in south-west Sydney five years after arriving in this country. Their story isn't unique. I met Josephina while out doorknocking. She was just 22 when she moved here from Chile with her husband and baby girl. Her and her husband worked hard, sometimes multiple jobs, and, within five years of arriving in Australia, they bought their family home in Silverwater that they still live in today. Australia's multicultural success story and the stories of my parents and Josephina's family and so many other migrant families are possible because of the stability given to them by affordable housing. But what would have happened to those migrants' stories if they had they come to this country not decades ago but today? Would my parents have been able to afford to buy a house in Sydney? I don't think so.

So how did we get here? A problem as big as this did not happen overnight. It has been brewing for years and years. We are here because of the decade of complete and utter failure and neglect by the federal and New South Wales coalition governments. Under their watch, we were left with a critical shortage of housing. After a decade of siloed state and territory policies where housing ministers barely met, the community rightly expects the Albanese government to get on with the job of bringing all levels of government together. While we can't fix a problem this big overnight, we are taking significant steps to help us get there. It falls to this Labor government to fix up the mess left behind by those opposite. It is up to us to build the homes and apartments this country needs, and that's exactly what we are doing.

Despite the best efforts of those opposite to block the housing affordability future fund, I'm pleased to see this key housing policy is set to pass the parliament. First and foremost, the housing affordability future fund is about providing the biggest boost to affordable housing in a decade, with 30,000 social and affordable homes to be built within the first five years of its establishment—secure and affordable housing for women and children fleeing family violence, for veterans and for frontline workers, nurses, paramedics, teachers. But it's not just about that; it's about providing a resilient and sustainable funding stream for social and affordable housing long into the future. I use those words very deliberately because, in all the political commentary about the housing affordability future fund, this key point might have been missed. I say we need a resilient funding stream because, by developing the community housing sector, it stops future Liberal-National governments from selling public assets like the former Liberal government did over the last decade in New South Wales, and I say 'sustainable' because it's so important to keep the supply of social housing consistent so that it can continue, whoever—Liberal or Labor—is in government, so that we are never again finding ourselves in the situation we are in now, where housing unaffordability is at record levels.


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