Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Support and Other Measures) Bill 2022; Second Reading
I rise to make a contribution to this debate on the Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living Support and Other Measures) Bill 2022. This bill provides a one-off payment of $250 to income support recipients and also provides an income tax offset of $420 for the 2021-22 income year. The government is trying to pass off these sweeteners as 'cost-of-living payments' that will 'ease the cost of living pressures'. But Australians won't fall for that. The $420 payment won't go far enough, for families across Australia who are stuck spending half of their income on housing, and the $250 payment would only lift pensioners out of poverty for one week, before sending them back below the poverty line the following week.
We cannot seriously be talking about easing the cost-of-living pressures without talking about housing. We are in a housing crisis in Australia. There are no two ways about that. Too many Australians are struggling to keep their heads above water, and too many of these Australians are women and younger people. Everyone deserves a roof over their heads and a safe place to call home. In a property market that is rigged for wealthy investors and with property prices surging to record highs, buying a home is well out of reach for most people. Decades of governments have rigged private housing markets with tax breaks to favour big developers and rich property speculators. We have a housing affordability crisis, but the Liberal and Labor parties want to wipe their hands of it.
It isn't good enough to just leave this to the market. To fix this mess, we actually need government action and we need it now. Renters in this country are doing it tough. It's too expensive for many people to pay rent and also save for a deposit at the same time. More and more people are renting, but with limited rights—and they can't turn their house into a home. Like so many others across this country I am a single parent, and I know what it's like to live in social housing. For people like us, the housing crisis is not academic. It is our lived reality. And it's time to wake up, because that is what's happening in the real world. It's time to think differently.
In the balance of power, the Greens will push for billionaires and big corporations to actually pay their fair share of tax in this country so we can build affordable housing and tackle the housing crisis head-on. Whether you are renting a home or buying one, a housing system should work for people and not for profit. That's why the Greens will build one million new homes, including 120,000 new homes in my home state of Western Australia, over the next 20 years. These new homes will clear the public housing waiting list and make housing more affordable. They will end homelessness and ensure that everyone has a roof other their heads. We will build and offer—to renters, first home buyers and people locked out of housing—new, good-quality homes in areas people actually want to live in, for $300,000, at cost price. This means renters can become home owners, paying off an affordable home loan—and building equity—rather than the ever-increasing rental payments. Because this means buying a home from the government, the price isn't set by property tycoons trying to turn a massive profit. The shared equity scheme will mean buyers will eventually own three-quarters of the property and be able to live there for the rest of their lives, or sell the property and move into the private property market.
The Greens will give renters the rights they deserve, by strengthening renters' rights and by funding tenancy advocacy services. That's why we will introduce rent control, ban no-grounds evictions and give the option of long-term leases for those who want them. Renters should be able to build the life they want in their home—I know you don't understand that, Senator Scarr—with the right to make minor changes without a landlord's permission. We will stop the blanket ban on pets in leases. We will again pay for this by making the billionaires pay the billionaires tax on their wealth and by winding back unfair tax breaks for people who own two or more properties.
The Greens are the only party who don't take donations from the big banks, the big developers and the property tycoons. We are unlike the other parties, because we don't take big donations and we put people's needs first. The Liberal and Labor parties give billions of dollars in handouts to people who own multiple properties, which just pushes the prices up and locks people out of housing. Both of the major parties want to keep the system rigged for big banks, big developers and property tycoons—all of which donate huge amounts to their party each year. Both parties are beholden to their donors, and it shows. Their policies make it easier for someone to buy their third, fourth or fifth investment property. The Greens will make sure that those people who are locked out of the housing market can own their own home so that we can all have a safe place to call home.