Wednesday, 17 June 2020
I want to make some remarks, indeed condemn, the government's absolute joke of a housing package: its $688 million renovation scheme. It's the kind of housing package you want when you don't actually want a housing package, isn't it? During the GFC—we're told by the government that that was a much littler crisis and this is a much worse crisis—the then Labor government invested $6.6 billion into social and public housing across the nation. It is an enduring asset. They're still there. In contrast, this tiny little package, the Prime Minister's teeny, tiny, little package, will not create enough jobs. It's not going to create enough houses. The housing industry is a sector that we actually have very good data on. You can look at the building approvals. They're the canary in the coalmine showing what's going to happen. Are the contracts in place after the building approvals? No, they're not. You can see that this sector is going off a cliff. Pre-COVID, there were going to be 160,000 houses built per year. That is going to drop to 100,000 now. So 60,000 fewer houses are going to be built because of the COVID crisis. What's the government's response? A tiny little package that will build only 10,000 more houses. The government has no answer. What about the 50,000 houses which are not going to be built now? What are the tradies going to do? What are the builders and building companies going to do then?
Size does matter in a housing package; but it's not just size. This whole scheme is flawed. The design of the scheme is flawed. It is a random private enrichment scheme. It's only going to benefit people who have more than $150,000 to spend on a home renovation, who earn less than $125,000 a year and who are ready to go now. It's completely random. It is not actually stimulating more jobs. That's the joke of it. It's window dressing, because you want to say you've got a housing package. The economic analysis says it's not generating more jobs. You know it's a joke. You now see on the home renovation shows and the online sites advice on how to get better bathroom fittings with your renovation. You hear the builders say, 'I'm going to raise my quote now and give you better fittings so you can qualify for the grant.' It is a joke.
Instead of this joke of a scheme to randomly enrich a few people with new TV rooms, you should be building social and public housing, an enduring asset for the taxpayer that would have some lasting public benefit. You could get the renovations done and you could build the new houses. Every state and territory government has the permits in the bottom drawer. They've got the projects drawn up. The money is there. There are 150,000 people in this country desperately waiting on the public housing waiting lists. You could do something about that. But, no, this government does not like the word 'public'. You'll help private unis and not public unis. You'll help private vocational education but not public TAFE. You'll privatise the public service and you won't help public housing.