PETER KHALIL MP
MEMBER FOR WILLS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEECH
MONDAY 27 MARCH 2023
Subjects: Housing Australia Future Fund
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, MILTON DICK:
I call the Member for Wills.
PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS:
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To be sent to this place to represent our community is an immense privilege. It’s not lost on me, the gravity of the responsibility we have here in this place. We’re trusted to make decisions of significance to our communities and for our nation. We are trusted to make difficult decisions; decisions that not everyone will agree with. And in a democracy, we know of course that it is impossible to get 100% agreement all the time. So it’s a good thing that we not only allow but welcome a diversity of views across our nation and in this place as well. And it’s the job of government, Mr. Speaker, to make the tough decisions and be accountable for them. That’s the job.
But it doesn’t seem to be a responsibility some members of this place take seriously enough. Now I’m talking about members of the Greens party – the political party who scurried out on the recent vote on the Albanese Labor Government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. We know the Opposition opposed. They took that position, fine. We don’t agree with you. But the Greens scurried out. This is the largest investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade. A fund which will deliver the government’s commitment of 30,000 new social and affordable homes in its first five years; 100 million for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence and older women at risk of homelessness; $30 million to build housing and fund specialist services for veterans who are experiencing homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness; $200 million for the repair, maintenance, and improvement of housing in remote and indigenous communities. That’s what we were voting on. Now, those opposite opposed all of that. Those over there in the crossbench of the minor party, they ran out; they didn’t even vote for it, they didn’t vote against it, they didn’t have the guts to vote at all. That’s just not good enough, Mr. Speaker. We are sent here by our communities to represent them and their views; but if you can’t even make a decision on critical investment in social and affordable housing, what are you here for?
They’ll come in here, day in day out, shouting, waving their hands, having a crack during the debate. That’s fine. That’s part of the cut and thrust of politics; criticizing government. But we’re actually getting on with the job. It’s a government that is actually making the tough calls in the interest of our nation. Now, we won’t always get everything 100% right; but we will always take a principled position and front up and justify it, and make our case. But what possible justification is there for just failing to do your job entirely? “Oh, we don’t have a position, Mr. Speaker”; I think that’s not good enough. Not good enough, Mr. Speaker. It’s not good enough for the thousands of Australians in need of social and affordable housing. It’s not good enough for the renters and the mortgage holders of Australia dealing with rising costs. They all know how to make the tough decisions; they’re making them every day. So they’ve got an Opposition in the Liberal and National parties who are opposing relief for them. They opposed release on energy bills as well, last December, disgracefully; they’re opposing it on the affordable and social housing fund, and we’ve got a crossbench, a minor party, who is not even showing up to make that tough decision or to support that bill.
These are decisions that Australians are making every day to balance their budget, to meet their rental payments or their mortgage payment. These are the people who we represent, and the people that we’ve got to make decisions for. Now, there’s still hope, Mr. Speaker. The Greens political party still can rectify their position by voting for the Housing Australia Future Fund in the Senate. Let’s hope they see the light. And I encourage all the crossbenchers and members of the Senate to support this very important bill. I’m not going to get much hope from over there, from the Opposition. They’ve made their position very clear; they just oppose. It’s “no, no, no” to everything. I mean, we could have the best possible bill and law put forward in this place; they’ll still say no. It doesn’t matter. That’s just what they do. But the Senate has a once in a generation opportunity to create a secure, ongoing pipeline of funding for social and affordable housing over the long term. Standing in the way of that legislation for the Housing Australia Future Fund means standing in the way of 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes. It means standing in the way of $30 million for housing and services for veterans experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness. It means standing in the way of $200 million for repair and maintenance of housing. It means standing in the way of $100 million for crisis and transitional housing for women and children. So I encourage all of those on the crossbench and opposite: support the Albanese Labor Government in delivering this once in a generation investment that will change the lives of thousands of Australians.
The Member’s time has concluded.