Monday, 19 June 2023
Consideration of Legislation
I seek leave to move a motion to provide for the consideration of the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill 2023 and related bills.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of the Leader of the Australian Greens in the Senate, I move:
That so much of standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion relating to conduct of business—namely, a motion to provide for the consideration of the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill 2023 and related bills.
I have circulated a motion in the chamber this morning which would allow for the housing bill to be considered after the government and the Prime Minister report back as to what agreement, if any, the Prime Minister can get out of National Cabinet in relation to the extraordinary amount of pressure renters are facing around the country today. We know, of course, that the housing bill, which this government has stubbornly been opposed to negotiating over, is before the Senate today, and the Greens would like for us to postpone that bill until the Prime Minister can show what he is going to do to relieve real pressure on one-third of Australian households.
We have been fighting long and hard to ensure that real money is put on the table to deal with the housing crisis, and—after months of being told that there was nothing that the government could do and they handed down a budget with no real money to deal with the housing crisis—over the weekend, we've seen, finally, a bit of cash, stashed at the back of the couch, put on the table. Finally, the government has found an extra $2 billion to relieve some of the pressure, to start getting on with building affordable, social housing. Well, good. Get on with it. Spend the money. And, in the meantime, give us your plans as to what you're going to do in relation to that one-third of Australians who live every day with the fear that next week, or next month, or next year, their rent is going to be put up. We know that the pressure that Australians in rental accommodation are feeling is extraordinary. We hear the stories every day. Our offices are inundated every day. They want us to act.
This motion says that we can deal with the housing bill on 16 October, after the Prime Minister comes back from National Cabinet having secured a deal. It is disappointing that, so far, the Prime Minister has done nothing for renters in this country. In fact, worse than that, he has said it is out of his hands. I mean, come on, mate. You're the Prime Minister of the country. You're the most powerful man in the land. You can, of course, use your influence, your abilities and the infrastructure of government to get something done. Put some money on the table at National Cabinet and get your colleagues, who we know are wall-to-wall Labor states on the mainland, to deliver for real people right now—renters and those needing social housing. Don't be so stubborn about it; just get the job done. Come to the party and be prepared to negotiate. If Labor acts on soaring rents at National Cabinet, this bill can pass, but, until then, what we are seeing is stubbornness and a refusal to act.
One-third of Australians have been left in the cold because the Prime Minister is playing games. Rents are rising, living costs are soaring and a third of Australians are being told: 'Bad luck. Not my problem.' We need our Prime Minister to take more leadership than that. We need a Prime Minister who is prepared to act for all Australians, whether you own a home, whether you're in social housing or whether you rent. We know that the people in rental accommodation are among the most vulnerable. They're in the most casualised work. They're students. They're single parents. They're young people. They desperately need to hear that this government cares about them, but all they've had so far is refusal, stubbornness and being put in the too-hard basket. It ain't good enough, which is why the Greens are standing here today. We will put this bill off until the Prime Minister comes back from National Cabinet with a plan to help renters.