In exchange for the Greens’ support of the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill, the government has today agreed to spend a further $1 billion in immediate and direct spending on public and community housing. The funding will be distributed through the National Housing and Investment Finance Corporation.
This brings the total housing spend extracted from Labor by the Greens to $3 billion immediately and directly - six times the maximum the government was initially willing to spend on an annual basis. The government earlier this year announced $2b would be directly spent from consolidated revenue this year, and now the Greens have secured an additional $1b.
From the outset, the Greens identified two major problems with the HAFF: the initial bill provided woefully insufficient funding for housing now, as it was entirely contingent on stock market returns; and it does nothing for the one third of the country who rent.
Since negotiations began, the government has agreed to a guarantee that the HAFF would disburse $500m regardless of the performance of the fund, and has now agreed to an additional $3 billion directly spent on housing and delivered immediately. Importantly the Greens have also forced the issue of the rental crisis onto the national agenda.
With these changes, the Greens say that it does more to urgently fund housing, with the $3 billion immediately and directly spent on housing, instead of the delayed and indirect model of the HAFF. The Greens will accept this offer and use balance of power to pass the Housing Australia Future Fund during this sitting fortnight.
However, with Labor still refusing to do anything to support renters, and with further significant Senate balance of power bills coming up, the Greens have warned that the campaign to force the government to move on renters has just begun.
Summary of outcomes from Greens pressure:
- Immediate $1 billion for public and community housing through the National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF SAH)
- Immediate $2 billion to the social housing accelerator fund
- Closed the “no minimum spend” HAFF loophole, and forced Labor to guarantee a $500 million annual spend starting 2024-25. Previously, the government could spend anything from $0 annually up to the $500m cap.
Lines attributable to Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens:
“Renters are powerful and the Greens are the party of renters. We have won more money for housing for renters, and rent control is next,” Mr Bandt said.
“Nine months ago, the government refused to guarantee a single dollar for housing, and renters barely even registered in the national debate. The Greens have secured $3 billion directly spent on housing, and renters are now a vocal social movement that won’t be ignored.
“Labor’s HAFF still won’t fix the housing crisis, but the Greens have secured $3 billion dollars for housing right now - not relying on a gamble on the stock market - and we’ve got to a position where it can pass the Senate.
“Renters have watched on in horror as Labor has refused to cap and freeze soaring rents.
“I say this to Labor: if you continue to ignore renters, your political pain has just begun. There are several more significant bills on the immediate horizon where the Greens will use our position in balance of power to push the government to address soaring rents with a freeze and cap on rents.
“Pressure works. Labor said there was no more money for housing this year and we pushed them to find $3b, and although Labor backs unlimited rent rises, we’ll push them on that too.
“Renters are on the march, and the Greens will be fighting alongside them all the way.”
Lines attributable to Greens housing and homelessness spokesperson Max Chandler-Mather MP:
"Nine months ago there wasn’t a single dollar of guaranteed investment in public and community housing and renters were invisible, and now there is $3 billion going out the door right now and renters have a national voice for the first time because the Greens stood up and fought.
"Greens power secured six times what Labor wanted to spend on social housing in a single year for public and community housing, and now we are going to use that power to win a freeze and cap on rent increases.
"Our message to renters is your voice and vote is powerful and the Greens are ready to fight for you, and know that we won’t stop until every renter in this country has a safe and affordable place to call home.
"We couldn’t get Labor to care about the one third of this country who rents, so we are putting Labor on notice for every future housing bill, the Greens are ready to stand up and fight for a freeze and cap on rent increases.
"Labor had the opportunity to freeze and cap rent increases through National Cabinet and they refused, so from now on every rent increase is Labor’s fault, and come next election Labor should be prepared to hear from renters loud and clear they are fed up with being treated as second class citizens.
“To every housing organisation and crossbench MP who told us to pass the HAFF Bill in its original form, sit up and pay attention. When we stay at the negotiating table we get outcomes, and $3 billion of additional guaranteed and immediate money is proof that Greens in balance of power can drag Labor kicking and screaming to taking meaningful action. If we praise the Labor party for offering crumbs, that’s all we’ll get."