House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023


National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Amendment (Unlocking Regional Housing) Bill 2023; Second Reading

10:10 am

Photo of Andrew GeeAndrew Gee (Calare, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I second the motion. I rise in support of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Amendment (Unlocking Regional Housing) Bill 2023, which amends the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Act 2018. I commend the member for Indi for bringing this very important bill to this House. The reality is that, despite the farm-fresh air, homegrown produce and relaxed way of life, the further away you live from the city, the more likely you are to miss out on the essentials, and that includes housing. That's the cold, hard truth. That's why I am strongly backing in the member for Indi's bill today.

The Central West of New South Wales is a wonderful place to live, so much so that we are seeing year on year growth to our population and the great tree change still in full force. But with a rising population there comes rising pressure on housing, health care and essentials. Something must be done to ease this pain and ease this pressure. Constituents of the Calare electorate are frequently contacting me to indicate just how difficult it is to find a place to live in our area, or with innovative proposals to address the housing crisis. For example, the population of Bathurst is expected to grow by 30 per cent to 2041. Our time to act is now. Our constituents want these innovative solutions, and they need help on the double.

In a recent report completed by Shelter NSW, it was determined that 31 per cent of low-income households in the Cabonne area in my electorate are experiencing mortgage stress, while 42 per cent are experiencing rental stress. In Orange, 61 per cent of low-income households are experiencing rental stress and 39 per cent are experiencing mortgage stress. With the rising cost of living, these statistics are only going to get worse. The people of regional Australia need help, and your postcode or socioeconomic status should not determine whether you have access to safe, secure and affordable housing. Time and again, those in our region feel like being west of the Great Dividing Range means they will be forgotten—just look at the recent response to natural disasters in our area and you'll understand why. The member for Indi's proposal to ensure that the National Housing Infrastructure Facility distributes at least 30 per cent of its funds to regional, rural and remote Australia, which is in line with the population of our regions, is a very important step forward.

It's important to recognise that additional funding and support for homeowners and affordable housing is one important step in providing a roof over people's heads, but the other important element is ensuring that local governments are adequately resourced. Councils like Cabonne Council in my electorate have unfortunately worn the impact of a natural disaster spanning many towns, and their bank accounts are looking much more worse for wear. As with many country councils with a small ratepayer base and significant increases in anticipated population, both councils and residents alike need assistance and funds to provide enabling infrastructure like sewerage, water, electricity, transportation and roads. A solution for this problem is proposed in the member for Indi's bill today.

I'm proud to support the member for Indi's bill. The people of regional Australia need their voices heard and their needs met, just like their city counterparts do. It's proposals like this one here today before us that bring us one step closer to bridging that great divide between cities and regional Australia. I commend to bill the House. (Time expired)


No comments