PM throws down gauntlet on stalled social housing fund

August 5, 2023 BY

Anthony Albanese is urging opponents of the Federal Government’s social housing fund to back the parliamentary bill. Photo: DAN HIMBRECHTS/ AAP IMAGE

PRIME MINISTER Anthony Albanese has challenged the Greens to back a multi-billion dollar housing package or risk sending voters to an early election.

The Government will reintroduced the stalled Housing Australia Future Fund when parliament resumed this week in a bid to break a Senate stalemate.

The Greens and coalition pushed back debate of the $10 billion fund to October, but the Government will reintroduce the same bill to the lower house.

The resurrected bill could serve as a double dissolution trigger if it’s rejected a second time, allowing the Government to call an early election.

The Prime Minister said an election would not be held in 2023, but urged opponents of the fund to back the bill.

“The way in which you rule out having a double dissolution election is to have no triggers,” he said.

“Quite clearly, we have a mandate for this, we want this to be passed.”

The housing fund would aim to build 30,000 homes in five years with $500 million spent on affordable and social housing each year.

But the Greens have opposed the legislation, saying they want more money and assistance for renters.

The Prime Minister said politics needed to be put aside to solve the national housing crisis.

“It should be a no brainer,” Mr Albanese said.

Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather said the Government was refusing to budge.

“We’re willing to negotiate but a negotiation takes two to tango and the government’s saying it’s their way or the highway,” he said.

“When their way is hundreds of thousands more people waiting for public and affordable housing and millions of renters facing financial stress, that’s not a negotiation.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles downplayed suggestions the bill could be used as a double dissolution trigger.

“This isn’t about elections, this is about getting more housing,” Mr Marles said.

Acting Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said Labor’s latest move on the housing bill showed arrogance.

“The policy does not stack up and meanwhile their economy-wrecking approach is making it more and more expensive to build a home,” she said.

“What we need now is an urgent plan to tackle inflation, not threats about an early election.”

Property Council of Australia chief executive Mike Zorbas welcomed the reintroduction of the bill.

“The Housing Australia Future Fund is the shot in the arm the nation needs to close the housing deficit,” he said.

“The 30,000 new social and affordable houses that hang in the balance need to be green-lighted by all senators as soon as possible.”

Opposition housing spokesman Michael Sukkar said the coalition would not support the bill when it’s brought back, likening it to a Ponzi scheme.

“This is bad policy. This will not see one new home built this side of the next election,” he told Sky News.

A construction union this week launched a major campaign for a super profits tax on Australia’s richest companies to pay for social housing, which the prime minister quickly ruled out.