Industry groups urge backing for ‘vital’ housing fund

August 12, 2023 BY

A housing fund could deliver 30,000 social and affordable homes in its first five years. Photo: LUKAS COCH/ AAP IMAGE

HOUSING lobby groups have thrown their support behind a multibillion-dollar social and affordable homes fund as Labor tries to push the proposal through parliament.

The Federal Government reintroduced legislation to set up the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund last week after its first attempt was held up in the Senate.

The fund was blocked by the Coalition and Greens, with the minor party demanding a nationally agreed rent freeze.

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said there was no silver bullet to solving the housing crisis, but the fund was “a vital piece in the housing puzzle”.

“It’s critical we address housing affordability and supply instead of prolonging action and allowing further deterioration in the market,” she said.

The housing fund would deliver 30,000 social and affordable homes in its first five years, with 4000 for women and children at risk of domestic violence.

Property Council of Australia chief executive Mike Zorbas warned the Greens’ demand for rent caps would reduce housing supply.

“The only way we can fix housing supply in this country is to improve broken state planning systems to set legitimate housing targets across the country,” he said.

“Rent control is a sort of toxic magic pudding.”

Housing Minister Julie Collins vowed to use every method necessary to break the legislative deadlock.

“The Housing Australian Future Fund will be the start of an enduring promise from the Australian government that more Australians will have a safe and affordable place to call home,” she said.

“Our government has not forgotten that promise.”

The reintroduction of the bill could deliver a double dissolution trigger if the legislation is blocked a second time later this year.

Such a trigger gives the prime minister an opportunity to go to an early election with all lower and upper house seats up for grabs.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there was broad support in the housing industry for the fund.

Greens housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather said negotiations were ongoing, but he did not reveal how those talks were progressing.

“The government have introduced the exact same bill that they rolled up in February which means not a guaranteed cent in public and affordable housing,” he said.

“Our ideal outcome in October, when the bill comes on for a vote, is to pass a plan that starts to tackle the scale of the housing crisis.

“That’s what we’re working towards.”

Opposition housing spokesman Michael Sukkar said there was no assurance the fund would be spent on building homes.

“If a government is going to fund social and affordable housing, it should do so in a guaranteed way,” he said.

“This is a very convoluted money go-round that the government has come up with just to ensure that it is treated in a certain way in the budget.”