Minister Collins interviewed by Karl Stefanovic on the Today Show


TOPICS: The Albanese Government’s ambitious housing agenda

SARAH ABO, HOST: From Canberra this morning is Minister for Housing and Homelessness Julie Collins and in Brisbane mother Vera. Julie, let's start with you if we could. How do we fix this housing crisis?

JULIE COLLINS, MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND MINISTER FOR HOMELESSNESS: Well, what we need to do is get more social and affordable homes on the ground more quickly. Indeed, we need more homes of every type on the ground more quickly, which is why today we're introducing the single biggest Federal Government investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade. We're talking about a $10 billion fund that will be there in perpetuity and the returns from that fund will be invested each and every year into social and affordable housing right across the country. And, of course, we're introducing legislation to get a supply and affordability council up to provide independent advice to governments of all tiers and, of course, to Housing Australia, which we'll also be creating with the legislation that we're introducing today. To make sure that what we do is based on evidence and the best advice to get more homes on the ground more quickly and to make sure that what we're doing is putting the right homes in the right places.

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Okay, look, I think that that's a terrific amount of money going towards something that's desperately needed. The downside is that's desperately needed now. When do you think that you'll actually get buildings on the ground built and people moving into them or any kind of accommodation? What's the timeframe on that, realistically?

COLLINS: So we've already unlocked up to $575 million already. We did that late last year. I've already been in some states making announcements about those projects. They are working with State Governments and Local Governments to get those homes on the ground as quickly as we can. I was on the North West Coast of Tasmania just last week where there are some homes that the Federal Government is investing in that will be available in just a couple of months time. So we're working as quickly as we can. We have also brought forward our Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee, which allows people in regional Australia to get into their first home more quickly. So that helps people get over that hurdle of a deposit so people can get into their first home sooner with as little as a 5 per cent deposit.

STEFANOVIC: I’m not sure there will be many jumping into that right now with interest rates going the way they are. Right. Vera, you've got caught up in all this, it was an enormous struggle to find a home. How are you receiving that news of accommodation that is on its way at some point in the next few months at best?

VERA, BRISBANE MOTHER: It doesn't really change much. There sort of needs to be a solution now. It's been an ongoing issue for over twelve months and it's just been getting worse. And, you know, it's great to hear that there is a solution, you know, in the near future, but that's in the near future and not immediate.

ABO: And that's the problem, isn't it? When you know that an issue has been around for twelve months, why is it only now that we're seeing it, I guess, addressed, and then months still before it's being rolled out? It should have been rolled out earlier. Vera, what is it that you need right now?

VERA: We need a home.

ABO: It's that simple, isn't it?

VERA: That's all we've needed. Yeah. Just a home.

STEFANOVIC: We've got your temporary home. I would think this is great for the Minister to see, actually. Not that I'm suggesting that the Minister can find you immediate accommodation, but it'll give her a great insight and I know she's across it. But tell the Minister what you're dealing with and where you're living and how many people are in that caravan.

VERA: We're in an 18 foot space, there's five people, three beds. The shower you can't even turn around in. You have stand in one position, you can go from the shower to the toilet without moving your feet. The kitchen, you don't have to take a step to move it's all just within arm's reach and that's the stove, the sink and the bench. So it's a very small space. We've always had stable accommodation and now we're getting used to the fact of literally living in a matchbox.

ABO: And these are scenes that are repeated across the country, Minister. You've no doubt heard about them.

COLLINS : Yeah. And they're heartbreaking and I say to Vera, I'm very sorry that there's this situation that you find yourself in through no fault of your own. And sadly, there are far too many stories like this right across the country. I know that people are making incredibly difficult decisions and what we want to do is move as quickly as we can. As I said, we have unlocked that money immediately. We did that last year to try and get homes on the ground more quickly, and we are working with states and territories and Local Governments. The construction sector also had some capacity constraints at the moment to try and get those homes on the ground more quickly. And I'd say to you, Vera, I would reach out to the State Government Services, if you haven't already, to try and get yourself some support to make sure that you're getting all the support that you're entitled to whilst we get these homes on the ground quickly as we can. I know that the Queensland Government have made some significant announcements today, as New South Wales and Victoria did last year. We are working as quickly as we can and I know that that's little comfort to so many Australians who are having to make really tough decisions.

STEFANOVIC: Very good, Minister, thank you for that and all the very best and we'll talk to you soon. Vera and our audience is following your story and very sorry for what you're going through with the big family. Thank you so much, appreciate it.