Thursday, 14 May 2020
COVID-19: Building and Construction Industry
That the Senate—
(i) that the construction industry has reported a substantial fall in activity as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic,
(ii) that homelessness has increased over the past decade, levels of housing stress have risen and that housing is less affordable and less secure than ever before,
(iii) the role social housing plays in addressing homelessness and housing stress, and
(iv) that housing construction can make a significant contribution to Australia's post-COVID-19 economic recovery while at the same time improve access for all Australians to more affordable and secure housing; and
(b) calls on the Morrison Government to work in partnership with state and local governments, the housing industry, social housing and homelessness organisations, and any other relevant expert to develop and co-fund a national plan that will:
(i) provide secure employment opportunities for construction workers and tradespeople, to ensure the long-term viability of the construction industry,
(ii) renew and refurbish existing social housing stock, to ensure current social housing tenants can stay safe and healthy in their homes, and
(iii) invest in new social housing to help reduce levels of homelessness and housing stress in Australia
Housing is primarily the responsibility of state and territory governments, but the Morrison coalition government works closely in partnership with states and territories, contributing $6 billion a year to improving housing and homelessness outcomes for all Australians. The coalition's National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation's affordable housing bond aggregator has delivered more than $1.3 billion of housing loans, supporting the delivery of more than 1,500 new social and affordable dwellings and refinancing a further 5,000 existing dwellings.
The Greens support this motion. We have been strongly pushing for a massive investment from the federal government to build 500,000 public and community homes to provide much-needed roofs over people's heads. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed even more how broken our housing system is. It's time for the federal government to lead from the front with a multibillion-dollar investment to construct high-quality, climate-conscious public and community housing as part of the economic stimulus. This will also create tens of thousands of thousands of jobs and thousands of apprenticeships. Housing is a human right, and everyone should have a place to call home.
The construction industry is continuing. We in One Nation have been discussing with unions and also with others how best to respond. We are aware that there must be a finite limit on extra spending, because we represent not just people who are looking for support but also the people who are paying for the support, the taxpayers. We will not be supporting this motion, because we are protecting the taxpayers in an industry that is already continuing.
Question agreed to.