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Speech: Housing crisis in Australia

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 22 Jun 2021

I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

There is a housing crisis in Australia and the Morrison Government is refusing to fix it.

There is a housing crisis in Australia and the Morrison government is refusing to fix it. In fact, there is a very deliberate strategy by the coalition to appear to be doing something about the housing crisis, while ignoring the very policy settings that have brought us to this point.

In the middle of the pandemic the government announced grants and schemes that would even further exacerbate the housing crisis. Instead of making real change, you lot keep coming up with harebrained schemes, like the granite benchtop renovation grants. The grants were for home renovations that could cost between $150,000 to $750,000. What a joke! And this is all happening while there are people living without heating in public housing around the country and there are people who have been waiting for months to get urgent repairs to their homes. Is this housing crisis a joke to you all?

What an affront that is to people who can't make the rent or save a deposit and those who are sleeping rough. But you don't really care about them. All you care about are the billionaires and the corporations—your mates.

The so-called Family Home Guarantee that you have established is just a government debt trap and a loan guarantee for the big banks. It seems the minister wakes up in the morning, possibly after wining and dining with the slick lobbyists from the big lenders, and comes up with these rubbish schemes that benefit no-one but the very top end of town. Housing policy in this country has seen some of the most craven collapses to your mates.

Much has been written about the mess that is housing. One recent article asked, 'There is a housing crisis in Australia, so how is the coalition going to fix it?' The answer is that they are not. They are not going to fix it. They are not interested in fixing it. The coalition are too close to their donors, their mates, in the big banks, the big developers and investors, those who made out like bandits during the pandemic. COVID-19 has not stopped the homelessness or housing affordability crisis. As we emerge from the pandemic, we should be doing everything we can to make sure that everyone has a roof over their head.

Unfair tax rules like negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount make it easier for someone to buy their fifth investment property than a first home to live in. This has to be dismantled so people looking for a first home can actually afford it. There has been radio silence on negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount from the Liberals, and Labor have completely backflipped on it. These concessions to the wealthy are the reason we are in this housing crisis. The Greens want to wind back negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount so we can put downward pressure on house prices.

The average property price in Sydney has now hit $1.3 million. People who have been able to enter the housing market have been staring down the barrel of a massive mortgage which they will be paying off for decades, while most can't even think of buying a property in Sydney. In parts of regional New South Wales the vacancy rate has fallen below one per cent. Crisis accommodation is at capacity and rental vacancies are virtually nonexistent. There are reports of families living in tents and vans while sending their kids off to stay with relatives. The rates of homelessness have pushed domestic violence and homelessness groups in New South Wales to say that we are on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.

We have such a severe shortage of social housing in this country that over 100,000 people were counted as sleeping rough in the last census. These people are invisible to the privileged members of the coalition. These people, time and time again, are completely left behind by the government, who have decided to pass the buck on social housing to states and territories. We need massive investment from the federal government to build a million new sustainable public and community homes so people can have a secure and permanent base to call home. Everyone has a right to a safe and secure home. The government is responsible for making sure that this happens, so do your bloody job!


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