Greens issue challenge to government on housing plan: fix the crisis or we won't support it



The Victorian Greens have said Labor must commit to strong reforms to ease the state’s housing crisis in order to guarantee passage of any part of their housing package — including the state taxation bill currently before Parliament.

When Labor announced its housing statement last month, it was clear they had caved in to the interests of the property industry. It contained none of the measures needed to stop more people facing housing stress and homelessness.

The Greens say under Labor’s plan the housing crisis will get worse, and have likened it to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. 

A change to Victoria’s vacancy tax is one of the first pieces of Labor’s housing plan to come before Parliament this week, with other legislation to come next year. 

In a letter to the Treasurer, the Greens have said that in order to secure their support for any part of their housing plan, including the upcoming tax bill and the upcoming short-stay levy, Labor must commit to real change to address the housing crisis, including:

  • Rent controls to protect renters from out-of-control rent rises via a two-year rent freeze, followed by a permanent cap on rent increases.
  • Short-stay regulation with a 90-day cap, owners corporation powers and a mandatory public register.
  • Inclusionary zoning to require a minimum of 30% of public and affordable housing in developments of 15 or more homes on private land across the state.
  • Stop the plans to privatise public housing land and the wholesale demolition of public housing. There must be a government commitment to maintain existing housing and build 100,000 new public homes within the decade.
  • A stronger vacant land tax that brings more homes into the housing market with an 'opt-out' system and a fairer rate of 3% CIV. 

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said Labor had missed a critical opportunity to support thousands of renters and people waiting for public and genuinely affordable housing.

She said under Labor’s current housing plan, renters would continue to face unlimited rent increases, many in regional communities would continue to be forced to sleep in tents and caravans, and the public housing wait list and homelessness would continue to rise.

The Greens are prepared to enter good-faith negotiations with Labor before the proposed vacancy tax hits the Upper House in two weeks’ time.

Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:

“Under Labor’s current housing plan, the housing crisis will get worse.

“Renters will continue to face unlimited rent rises, people in regional Victoria will be forced to sleep in tents and caravans, and our public housing waiting list will grow.

“The Greens will not accept measures that won’t work and will in fact make the housing crisis worse. 

“We are inviting Labor to partner with us to solve the state’s housing crisis. If Labor wants to pass their housing bills, they need to sit down with the Greens and support real solutions to fix the housing crisis.

“The question is: will Labor listen to experts and negotiate with the Greens to help fix the housing crisis, or will Labor continue to work only with property developers?”

Quotes attributable to Victorian Greens treasury spokesperson, Sam Hibbins MP:

“Tens of thousands of homes remain vacant yet this ineffective tax will cover just a handful of those, and will have no negligible impact on the supply of existing housing for renters or owner occupiers.

“Victorians in need can’t afford for the housing crisis to get worse. Taking urgent, necessary action will make thousands more homes available to renters or people wanting to buy their first home.”