The importance of affordable public housing

House of Representatives 28/09/2022

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (15:34): I’ve spoken many times in this place about the importance of affordable and public housing. I come from a migrant family; my parents came from Egypt in 1971, with not much. But we got a roof over our head—we got access to public housing. That allowed me to get a good education. It allowed me to make a contribution. It was really thanks to Labor governments, at both the federal and state level, that my family got that fair go.

Now, we’ve got a Minister for Housing who also grew up in public housing. We’ve got a Prime Minister who grew up in public housing. We’re all housos—the three of us! So we know how much that means to tens of thousands of Australians across this country—to have a roof over their heads, and the very fairness of that. That fairness, in many respects, embodies the Australian spirit of the fair go—that, no matter where you come from, no matter what your background is, socioeconomic or ethnic, you get a fair go. You’ve got housing: the baseline that allows anyone, any Australian, through their hard work, to achieve their goals, to get that good education, to get a job that gives them a sense of purpose—to achieve their dreams.

Yet today, after nine long do-nothing years of coalition government, the security of housing, the access to affordable housing, is now often out of reach. Year on year, house prices continue to rise.

We know that, over recent months, particularly this year, the challenges—the exacerbation of global inflation and the war in Ukraine—have had an impact as well. But it can’t be a free pass for the mob on the other side—the opposition, the former government. For nine years, they oversaw an increase in housing construction costs: 46 per cent over the last decade. Their legacy is of higher house prices, higher rents and greater housing stress—a legacy that has left many Australians unable to buy their own home and many in my electorate of Wills knowing the knock-on effect, as renters, and the stresses.

My community is made up of people from all walks of life, and they’re stressed in the community. Whether it’s the young family trying to manage alongside child care fees—although we’re doing something about that, as we have heard—or whether it’s the university student juggling study with part time work, or whether it’s older Australians, who are relying on their pension or their super, housing affordability and rental stress are issues that cut across all sectors of our community. And of course we have far too many Australians experiencing homelessness.

Now, the Albanese government, being made up of some very significant housos—and I’m talking more about the PM and the minister—at its core believes in safe and affordable housing as an essential part of people’s dignity. It gives them that dignity that we all deserve. That’s why we’re taking action to make housing more affordable by bringing forward the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee to 1 October, helping up to 10,000 eligible Australians into home ownership sooner, and unlocking up to $575 million by widening the remit of the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to invest in social and affordable housing, providing opportunities to partner with other tiers of government and social housing providers, and enticing private capital to invest in the provision of affordable housing. It also allows us to fulfil our commitments as part of the Housing Australia Future Fund, with a $10 billion commitment to build 30,000 new social and affordable houses in the first five years of our government—supplemented by the states, who are building another 15½ thousand houses. So there’s your answer on supply by 2024.

What did the other mob spend? Was it even $10? We’re spending $10 billion. I can’t get an answer because none of them are here.

The fund will provide social and affordable housing providers with the certainty and the capital to invest in building more affordable homes. We’ve got the Help to Buy program. We’ve got the National Housing and Homelessness Plan which the minister is developing. We’re taking real action on these issues to provide durable solutions to people in extreme housing insecurity, because, for the Albanese government, housing is not a privilege; it’s a necessity. It is literally the basic building block to a successful life. It is essential to everything else in our lives, whether it be to get education or to secure a decent job. So I say to those opposite and to the crossbench: join us. Join us and support the government’s plans to make housing more affordable for all Australians.