Greens senator, David Shoebridge has acknowledged that the pressure set by the Greens onto Labor is working. Image: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
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By JUSTIN COOPER
The Greens and Coalition parties have collectively delayed Labor’s Housing Australia Future Fund Bill (HAFF) in the Senate, following criticisms of the bill’s lack of insufficient and immediate funding for affordable and social housing.
Over the past two weeks, Labor has been criticised for not properly addressing the current housing crisis with Greens MPs calling for a quicker and more reliable plan.
Labor amended the bill multiple times to entice its progress. These included an annual $500 million from the investment fund for housing over the next 2 years and a direct $2 Billion boost to social housing split across states and territories.
Greens spokesperson for housing, Max Chandler-Mather, said that “pressure works” with the party continuing to request action for renters in bidding for a national rent freeze.
“If Labor can spend $2 billion in one year then they can spend that every year and they can certainly coordinate proper national limits on rent increases,” says Chandler-Mather.
Earlier in the week, the Greens successfully carried a motion for the bill to be delayed till the 16th of October, providing time for Labor “to progress reforms to strengthen renters’ rights.”
Labor MP’s have expressed their disappointment, with Labor Senator Don Farrell calling the collective Greens and Coalition “the axis of evil” in halting the bill.
City Hub spoke with Greens Senator for NSW, David Shoebridge, following the party’s misconceived criticism for playing political games and calls for a more immediate plan to deal with the housing crisis.
“The Government’s claimed delay doesn’t exist – since we know their inadequate scheme wouldn’t start until 2024 even if it was voted on now,” Shoebridge explained.
Whilst plans for affordable and social housing have been discussed, Shoebridge noted the lack of acknowledgment for renters across the state and federal governments as disappointing.
“We’re hearing from young people and those in housing stress that we should keep using our numbers in Parliament to demand more than the paltry offering from Labor.”
Shoebridge acknowledged the Greens’ success in applying pressure on the government in providing additional funds for social housing. However, he noted the scaling which Labor provided in promising the same number of homes for both Tasmania and NSW will not be sufficient for the latter.
“While 1,200 homes over 5 years might make a small dent in Tasmania, it won’t do a thing in a state the size of NSW,” says Shoebridge.
“It’s embarrassing that Labor has spent months and months puffing its chest out with this Housing Bill, and then when you look closely it only promises 240 new homes a year for NSW starting in 2025.”
Due to NSW’s size and with larger cities including Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle, Shoebridge says this “is not a serious response to the housing crisis and Labor knows it.”
“This is why the Greens are pushing so hard to have Labor invest far more in public and genuinely affordable housing, so we can actually start to tackle the scale of the housing crisis.”
With the Senate planning to reconsider the bill later in the year, Labor plans to receive legal advice on addressing HAFF with fears of an early double-dissolution election if the bill is ultimately defeated.