TOPICS: The Albanese Government’s ambitious housing agenda, RBA
LISA MILLAR, HOST: The Federal Government is set to outline its plans to address the shortage of affordable homes. Details of the $10 billion Housing Australia Fund will be announced by the Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Julie Collins, who joins us now. Good morning to you, Minister. Welcome to News Breakfast.
JULIE COLLINS, MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND MINISTER FOR HOMELESSNESS: Good morning and to your viewers this morning.
MILLAR: Yeah, so what are we going to see with this policy?
COLLINS: So, what I'm introducing into the Parliament today is the legislation for a $10 billion Housing Future Fund. This is delivering on our election commitments. This is the single biggest investment in social and affordable housing by a Federal Government in more than a decade. This fund will sit there and the returns from the fund will be invested in perpetuity into more social and affordable housing right across Australia. We'll also be introducing legislation to get independent advice on what will work to get more homes on the ground more quickly right across Australia with our Supply and Affordability Council, and we will also be introducing legislation to create an entity called Housing Australia that will be responsible for working with states and territories, community housing providers, superannuation industry, and others, to deliver those homes and get them on to the ground.
MILLAR: Yeah, this has just been such an ongoing problem. You talk about getting advice about you know, to get things happening more quickly. The Property Council came out with a report this week saying taxes on construction costs, government taxes, surcharges and levees that's all making it lethal to affordability, to actually have new properties built in Australia.
COLLINS: Yes and I was at that launch yesterday and they are welcoming our Supply and Affordability Council and the fact that we’ll be getting independent advice on what will work and what won’t. This advice will be what levers are available to what tier of government and how they’re best implemented to make sure that we don’t create distortions elsewhere in the market. What we need to have is everybody working together – all tiers of government, the construction sector, community housing providers, states and territories – to make sure that we’re all heading in the same direction. We all realise we have a fundamental issue in Australia with housing affordability and we all need to be working together to solve it.
MILLAR: Last night on 730 we saw more images and heard from people, vulnerable people, who are living in tents, who don’t know where their next home is going to be, who face homelessness. How long is Australia going to be a country where that happens to people?
COLLINS: Those stories are really tough. I completely understand how difficult it is for so many Australians who are doing it really tough. That’s why we’ve immediately unlocked up to $575 million to get more homes on the ground, more quickly. We’ve already made some announcements about where that money will go, and construction is getting underway to make sure that we have more affordable properties on the ground for people to be able to rent as quickly as we can. It’s why we’ve brought forward some of our other election commitments like our Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee which has seen 1700 regional Australians get into their own home sooner. That helps people who are currently renting or people looking for a home to help get over that hurdle for a deposit so people can get their first home with a deposit as little as 5%. So we are looking at policies right across the housing spectrum and we need to make sure that they're based on evidence and advice.
MILLAR: Minister how worried is the government that we are going to see multiple numbers of people defaulting on their loans this year. And does the government actually have an idea of how many might fall into that category?
COLLINS: We're obviously really concerned about the increasing interest rates and inflation. Which is why we're acting to reduce inflation as much as we can, to put downward pressure as much as we can with other cost of living support for Australians, like we did in the last budget. You know, with cheaper medicines, cheaper childcare, fee-free TAFE.
MILLAR: Sorry Minister but do you have any figure, specifically to that question, do you have any figures or any idea how many people might end up defaulting on their loans?
COLLINS: We're obviously keeping a close eye on it. We're talking to some of the bigger lenders about the number of people on fixed mortgages. But I understand that the financial institutions are making contact with those people. We know that far too many people are finding it difficult and they're facing some very difficult decisions, which is why we're trying to support them in every way we can.
MILLAR: Do you feel confident in the decisions made by the RBA at the moment?
COLLINS: They're obviously independent of government. What we're trying to do is add to the housing supply to try and deal with some of the housing affordability issues and acting as I said through the last budget and the next budget to try to provide cost of living relief in a way that doesn’t add to inflation.
MILLAR: Yeah, no, I understand they're independent of government, but do you have confidence in the decisions that are being made?
COLLINS: Well, they've always been independent of Government and they make decisions based on the advice available to them. What we're concerned about is assisting those Australians who are doing it tough in every way that we can. And we're doing that today with our $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. We're talking about the biggest single investment in more than a decade from a Federal Government in social and affordable housing to try and improve supply of housing right across the country.
MILLAR: Minister Julie Collins, thanks for joining us this morning.
COLLINS: Thanks very much.