PETER KHALIL MP
MEMBER FOR WILLS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEECH
WEDNESDAY 15 FEBRUARY 2023
Subjects: Housing Australia Future Fund
DEPUTY SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, IAN GOODENOUGH:
I call the honourable member for Wills.
MEMBER FOR WILLS PETER KHALIL:
Thank you, Deputy Speaker. The Albanese government understands that safe and affordable housing is central to the security and dignity of Australians. It’s something I understand personally, as does the Minister for Housing and the Prime Minister: the three of us are all housos – grew up in housing commissions, and we’re proud of it. Public housing gave my family more than just a roof over our head; it gave us a safe place to call home. It supported a young migrant family as we worked hard to build a life in Australia. It gave us the security to allow my sister and I to pursue education and give back to our country, which gave us so much. That is what safe and affordable housing means. It means dignity. It means opportunity. Too many Australians are being hit by rising rents and mortgage payments. Too many Australians are struggling to buy a home. And sadly, too many Australians are facing or experiencing homelessness. That’s why we have an ambitious housing reform agenda to ensure more Australians have a safe and affordable place to call home.
This housing package is a comprehensive suite of measures to build more social and affordable houses. It is one of the most significant Australian government investments in housing in a generation. The legislation implements the government’s commitments to establish a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund to provide a stream of funding to ensure there is a pipeline of new social and affordable housing for Australians in need. It’s 30,000 new homes, $200,000,000 for acute needs with Indigenous communities and housing, $30 million for veterans who are experiencing homelessness. $575,000,000 injection into the National Housing Infrastructure Facility for immediate use for social and affordable housing. It’s also about transforming the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation into Housing Australia as a national home for key housing programs to expand its activities. It’s also about establishing the National Housing supply and Affordability Council to provide independent advice to government on ways to increase housing supply and affordability.
All these commitments, Deputy Speaker, are part of the government’s broader housing reform agenda, which includes the landmark National Housing Accord: a shared ambition to build 1,000,000 well located homes over five years from 2024; $350 million in additional Commonwealth funding to deliver 10,000 affordable homes over five years from 2024, matched by the states with another 10,000 homes; widening the remit of the National Housing Infrastructure Facility, made up of $575 million immediately available to invest in social and affordable housing; developing a National Housing and Homelessness Plan to set short, medium and long term goals to improve housing outcomes across Australia; implementing the regional first home buyer guarantee, which has already helped more than 1600 Australians into home ownership, and the Help to Buy program which will reduce the cost of buying a home and help people into a home sooner.
Deputy Speaker, the government has also expanded all of these efforts in a focus in addressing the housing crisis and easing the cost of living. But what about those on the other side, Deputy Speaker, who we’ve heard from? Well, it wasn’t enough for the previous Coalition government to discontinue the National Rental Affordability Scheme. It wasn’t enough for the previous Coalition government to abolish the National Housing Supply Council. They claimed that housing was a state issue, yet they couldn’t bring together state and territory housing ministers for the last five years. Couldn’t even do that for five years. Now they’re lining up to oppose this critical $10 billion investment in affordable housing – and this is at a time when Australians are struggling with increasing rents, increasing mortgage payments, and increasing house prices. At a time when we are, as a government, taking real action on these issues after 9 long years of wasted time under their zero leadership. Zero.
And it’s not just the Libs. I hear that the unholy alliance between the Greens political party and the Liberals might be back. I hope not. It seems that if the Greens want to make the perfect enemy of the good, which is part of their MO, that they might seek the $10 billion investment in affordable housing. That’s not coming into this place to build, to be constructive. It’s coming into this place to wreck. And I’m shocked that they might be happy to join the Coalition in doing that, in opposing this bill. The simple truth for the Greens Party is that they talk big on housing, but the rubber hits the road here, Deputy Speaker, when you vote on reality – and the reality of impacting millions of Australians and their access to housing. And I urge them: in good faith, we’ll negotiate with them. As we always do, we’ll even in good faith negotiate with the opposition if they’re willing to talk about amendments. But I urge them not to join up with the coalition to kill this bill.
Just two months ago – the Member for Melbourne – he’s not here, but he’s the leader of the Greens – he sent a message to supporters asking them to think about the homeless and those struggling to pay the rent over Christmas. Did he talk about the Greens Party’s support for the government’s public housing investment? No. He told people that if they really care about the homeless, they should donate to the Greens political party. Now, the Albanese government won’t use housing stress to shake down people for money. We won’t promise false hope with failed policies, and we won’t stand in here and play political games like those on the other side and some of those on the crossbench who may oppose this bill. I hope they don’t. I hope the minor parties, the Greens and the crossbenchers understand the importance of this.
I hold out that hope, even though I know that there are many, many local councilors from the Greens, for example, who have opposed public and affordable housing in their local council decisions. And I know that this is the case in the in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, where public and social and affordable housing is desperately needed, there has been opposition by Greens councilors. I hope that’s not replicated here in the Parliament of Australia. I hope they don’t team up with the Coalition to threaten billions of dollars of critical investment in public housing. Because if they decide to make the perfect enemy of the good and they don’t get what they want on amendments, for example, in a good faith negotiation, and they team up with those on the other side and oppose this bill, they will go down in ignominy. They will be going against millions of people that this bill will help – millions of Australians. These are people fleeing domestic violence. These are people who fought for our country and served. These are First Nation Australians who live in remote areas. These are people who need a home. So I ask the opposition to reconsider their position. I asked the Greens political party to work with us and the crossbenchers. Work with us to invest and implement these critical reforms that are so needed for so many Australians. What are we here for, if not to serve them in that capacity, in good faith? Work with us to provide the national leadership to address housing affordability across Australia.