TOPIC: The Albanese Government’s ambitious housing reform agenda.
WOODY, HOST: Speaking of which, the Federal Minister for Housing, Julie Collins, joins us now, also the member for Franklin here in Tasmania. Morning, Julie Collins.
JULIE COLLINS, MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND MINISTER FOR HOMELESSNESS: Good morning, and to your listeners today.
WOODY: I'm sure that this isn't unique, all these calls and stories that we're getting of people unable to afford rent, housing, people living on the street. It's absolutely heartbreaking to see.
COLLINS: It's absolutely heartbreaking, and I obviously get a lot of those too. And it is really tough for people. People are making some really difficult decisions in difficult times, which is why we want to get on with our job of delivering more social and affordable homes. And when I say affordable, I'm talking affordable rentals below market rate right across Australia.
WOODY: So Labor in the lead up to the election promised $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. Where are we at with that? Are you going to be able to deliver on that?
COLLINS: We're obviously moving as quickly as we can, so we have now got legislation in the Parliament. We, this week, got it through the lower house, so we now have that going up to the Senate. And of course, we had in the lower house four out of five lower house Tasmanians support it, plus all of the crossbenchers in the lower house support it. So we got a lot of support. But of course, we had the Opposition say no, they are not supporting it, which means that we do need to do a bit of work with the crossbench in the Senate. But I really can't think that any politician should be voting no to more social and affordable housing right across Australia.
TUBES, HOST: So this bill is an important step to - in delivering that $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. What exactly does it mean for Tasmanians?
COLLINS: So what it means is, when the bill gets through, $10 billion will be invested and then the returns from that - so we expect around half a billion every year - will be additional investment from the Federal Government in social and affordable housing right across the country. So that will mean that every state and territory will get their fair share of that funding, and regional Australia will get its fair share. We're talking about 30,000 additional homes in the first five years of the fund, and 4000 of those are for women and children fleeing family violence, older women at risk of homelessness. 10,000 affordable homes are for things like key workers - nurses, teachers, doctors - so that they can live close to where they need to work.
WOODY: There's over 4000 people that are on a housing waiting list. From what I'm being told, there are thousands of homes that are empty and sit empty. I've also been told by police that some of their duties are to drive past these places to make sure they're not being pilfered or damaged. I mean, I know some of this is state, I know some of its council, I know some of it's federal. I mean, what can we do collectively to get these houses - there's 20 in Bridgewater I'm hearing, there's places that have been empty for seven years in some suburbs.
COLLINS: Well, obviously I'm not aware of those particular things because they are under the remit of the State Government. But what we want to do is work with the other tiers of government, the local government and state government. And what you've got with our Federal Government, with the Albanese Government, is a Federal Government stepping up to the plate for the first time in almost a decade. We are taking this very seriously. We're providing national leadership. We've had three meetings with State Ministers after five years of none. We are trying to work collectively with them to try and see what else we can do, how we can leverage and support to get more homes on the ground more quickly. The other part of the important legislation that's before the parliament is the Supply and Affordability Council, which will provide independent advice to all tiers of government about what will get more homes on the ground sooner, and making sure they're the right homes in the right places.
TUBES: Well, I guess this is good news and like you said, Julie Collins, the first step in the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. That is good news for the thousands of Tasmanians that are homeless at the moment. Julie Collins. Thanks so much. We will continue to follow this issue with you across the coming weeks.
COLLINS: Thanks for having me on, and I hope I have some good news in coming weeks and months as we get the legislation through the parliament.
WOODY: Would be great to hear. Julie Collins there.