Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
They were male! As the member for Kooyong pointed out, we have a gap of about 750,000 dwellings at the moment. No-one can go about their life without a safe and stable place to call home where they can raise a family, go to work and stay healthy. We know how important it is for everyone to have a secure, safe roof over their heads, and Labor is more than committed to tackling the nation's housing challenges, following from nearly a decade of inaction from the former Liberal-National government.
At the last election, we put an ambitious housing agenda to the Australian public. Since then, we've built on that agenda to work with and support the construction industry as we work towards that promise of significantly increasing the supply of new homes. We're doing that because all the experts tell us that supply is the answer. There are some tax things that we could go into, but supply is what we have to be focused on. A lot of people talk about social, affordable and all types of housing both in and outside of this parliament. Having formerly been on the board of Kyabra—something I had to give up when I was elected—I know how hard it is to roll out social and affordable housing. But, when it came to the crunch, when we introduced a bill in the parliament that would actually start to solve the problem, some people just said no from a party position and some people literally ran away from voting for it in the House of Reps. They're quite prepared to stand, make speeches, complain about the housing crisis and say what they would have done in their 11th year of government. If you meet with any community group or organisation that actually deals with housing and homelessness, they will tell you how frustrated they've been because of the delay in the passing of the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill. My organisations that deal with homelessness and housing on the ground really want certainty around long-term investments so that they can get those projects started.
Today I was pleased to hear that the Greens political party and other parties in the Senate announced they're now supporting the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill, a bill that will deliver the single biggest investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade. It's good to see that the Greens now recognise this and will work with us to deliver more affordable housing to the Australians who need it most. Working together is the key to starting to solve this wicked housing crisis. That is the kind of parliament that Australians want to see: politicians working together in the national interest.
Our funding commitments in housing through the Housing Australia Future Fund, the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator—which I think is a wonderful initiative—the National Housing Infrastructure Facility and the National Housing Accord are all about new, social and affordable rental homes. These are homes that will be owned in perpetuity by the state governments or the registered community providers, and will be provided at concessional rents to key workers and people who need them most.
We're also introducing incentives to increase the supply of rental housing by improving the arrangements for investments in build-to-rent accommodation. We know a lot of people across Australia are finding it tough to find an affordable place to rent. I hear horror story after horror story in my electorate. The last census found that more than 30 per cent of Australians were renting, and we know that we need to do so much more. This $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund will create that secure, ongoing pipeline of funding for social and affordable rental housing. That's the promise we took to the election.
When National Cabinet met just under a month ago, they committed to a better deal for renters and to harmonise and strengthen renters' rights across Australia. Without going into boring constitutional law, we're doing what we can with the state governments that work in this area to develop a nationally consistent framework with a requirement for genuine, reasonable grounds for eviction; moving towards limiting rental increases to once a year; and phasing in minimal rental standards, among other changes, to make renting fairer, but not doing it in such a way that we're going to decrease supply and that investment supply line. These changes will make practical impacts to Australian renters. These changes will change lives and save lives. We have committed to an ambitious housing agenda reform agenda. Let's get on with it.