Monday, 11 September 2023
Private Members' Business
I thank the excellent member for Higgins for this excellent motion. The Albanese government, our government, understands that Australians are facing serious housing shortages all around the country. We are also focused on addressing the economic situation that we've inherited, including the rising cost of living. We want every Australian to have the security of a roof over their head, but it is true that a decade of little action by the former coalition government has left us with significant challenges across the nation. That's why an ambitious housing agenda, such as the one we've got, is needed.
All jurisdictions—including Tasmania, where there's a Liberal government—have now agreed to a $3 billion new-homes bonus to extend the National Housing Accord target to 1.2 million new homes over five years. So that's an additional 200,000 new homes above the target that was agreed by all states and territories last year. This target will be implemented through the housing support program which is a $500 million competitive funding program for local and state governments to kickstart that housing supply. In June, we announced a further $2 billion in new money to build more social housing rentals over the next two years. This is the most significant housing reform in a generation.
The Albanese government understands safe and affordable housing is central to the dignity of Australians. Far too many Australians are being hit by growing rents, far too many Australians are finding it too difficult to buy a home and, sadly, far too many Australians are facing or experiencing homelessness. We have now reintroduced legislation to establish the HAFF, the Housing Australia Future Fund, which will provide a sustainable and ongoing funding stream to build the social and affordable homes that Australians need. This legislation is supported by every member of this House, save for most of those in the Liberal and National parties and the Greens political party. Thank you to those members of the crossbench who supported this legislation. This fund will help deliver the ambitious target we took to the last election to build 30,000 new social and affordable homes within the first five years. Importantly, we will make sure these homes are fairly and equitably spread, including in regional and remote Australia.
The HAFF builds on our other initiatives, such as the National Housing Accord, which will deliver 10,000 affordable homes in the five year from 2024, matched by the states with another 10,000 homes. The expansion of the National Housing Infrastructure Facility will release an additional $575 million for more social and affordable homes right now. In addition, the Social Housing Accelerator provides $2 billion to build up to 4,000 new social rentals in the next two years.
Over the past decade, the proportion of social housing in Australia has fallen from 4.8 per cent to 4.1 per cent of all housing stock. At the exact time that we needed more social housing, those opposite have left our nation with less social housing. We are committed to turning this around.
In the time remaining, I want to pay tribute to some organisations that are helping Territorians in my electorate and throughout the Northern Territory to find affordable housing. Champions of the sector, like CatholicCare and Anglicare, are providing invaluable work in the NT. For renters, it's a dire situation. There is a three per cent vacancy rate. In my electorate, there is a less than one per cent vacancy rate in Darwin and Palmerston. This obviously hits people on low incomes especially hard, because few of these rentals are actually affordable.
I also acknowledge NT Shelter and its important work, and, of course, Vinnies, the St Vincent de Paul Society, for their proposal to build some interim accommodation on Crown land in Darwin, and also a proposal for more affordable housing on Westralia Street in Stuart Park. We are also committed to helping veterans at risk of homelessness and all homeless veterans through the Scott Palmer Services Centre in Darwin. That is really important.