NSW, Victoria to receive just over half of Labor’s $2 billion social housing fund
The prime minister has suggested the Housing Australia Future Fund, a key election promise, could again be voted on as early as next week.
The Greens were declaring partial victory on Saturday, with housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather welcoming the $2 billion fund and saying it was now time for Labor to freeze rents – a policy abhorred by the overwhelming majority of economists.
“For months now, Labor has said there is no extra money for social or affordable housing,” the member for Griffith said. “They said it was impossible. Today, the Labor Party have caved to the Greens’ demands.”
The Greens party room will discuss their latest stance on the Housing Australia Future Fund this week and MPs are not ruling out once again blocking its passage.
Coalition housing spokesman Michael Sukkar said the $2 billion social housing fund was an admission that Labor’s housing agenda was in “absolute tatters”.
“It’s clear that this announcement is a desperate attempt to appease the Greens in order to gain their support for the troubled Housing Australia Future Fund,” he said.
“There’s no detail on where these houses will be located, when they’ll be built or who will build them.”
Albanese said those details have deliberately been left to the states to allow for flexibility based on local policies and circumstances.
The prime minister was flanked by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for Saturday’s announcement. The Victorian premier said the $2 billion fund showed federal Labor wanted to govern for the whole country.
“We’ll get a healthy share of that so we can get more people into secure housing,” Andrews said. “That’s how you build a better life.”
NSW Premier Chris Minns described the money as a crucial injection of funds.
“The need for social housing is only growing,” he said. “We’ve already begun the work to fix planning laws in NSW to get supply moving.”
The prime minister struck the $2 billion deal with state and territory leaders on Friday afternoon at a meeting of national cabinet. The money is due to be handed over by June 30 and is to be spent over two years.
The surprise funding is not expected to jeopardise this year’s forecasted federal surplus – which the May budget estimated to be $4.2 billion – due to stronger-than-expected tax revenue.
Albanese and Andrews made their comments after attending Victorian Labor’s state conference in Melbourne on Saturday.
At that conference, rank-and-file Labor members voted to urge the state government to immediately raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14. Victoria plans to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 by the end of next year, and lift it to 14 by 2027.
Delegates also passed a motion to support the upcoming Voice to parliament referendum. Recent polling has suggested support for a Yes vote has slipped to 49 per cent.
A motion condemning the $368 billion AUKUS submarine deal will be put to Victorian Labor Party members on Sunday afternoon.
Before the two-day conference kicked-off, a group of about 12 pro-refugee protesters stood outside Moonee Valley Racecourse chanting “f— this party, f—- this state!”
Workers were then seen scrubbing graffiti – including phrases like “close the camps” and “conference for refugee torturers” – from a driveway and a statue of champion racehorse Winx.