Minister Collins interview on Sky News First Edition.

E&OE Transcript

SUBJECTS: Housing Australia Future Fund.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining us live now, the Housing Minister, Julie Collins. Minister, good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning, if you've got me. Let’s start with the changes that you've made to assuage the Greens, most notably guarantees to build houses every year. So, how's that going to work?

JULIE COLLINS, MINISTER FOR HOUSING: Thanks for that, Peter. We have been negotiating across the Parliament and we wrote to Senators across the Parliament yesterday, particularly the crossbenchers who'd written to us. We've addressed all eight of their concerns, including guaranteeing a $500 million disbursement from 2024-25 each and every year. But, of course, our Housing Australia Future Fund isn't the only thing we're doing for housing. We've unlocked $575 million immediately. We have homes going on the ground today because of that action. Indeed, in my own state of Tasmania, we've got people going into homes in just weeks because of the action the government has taken. So, that $575 million is available immediately, and we’ve made some announcements around that. I made just one last week in Parramatta of 65 new apartments that are going up, social and affordable housing. So, we are doing that straight away. We also, of course, have our Housing Accord - another $350 million from 1 July 2024, another 10,000 affordable rental homes to be matched by states and territories. And then, of course, the $1.7 billion for one year from 1 July for states and territories to invest in housing and homelessness services. Indeed, in the financial year from 1 July, the Federal Government will be spending over $8 billion on housing and homelessness services. So, we are doing that, and this is on top of what states and territories are doing. So, there are significant investments coming from the Federal Government right across the board.

STEFANOVIC: Okay. You need the Greens, though, to get this through the Senate. And we had Max Chandler-Mather on the program last hour. He's not at all convinced by the changes. This was his response to your amendments this morning.

MAX CHANDLER-MATHER: What the Government are proposing is not to spend any money for 12 months' time and then only $500 million. Not index it for six years, so lock in real-term cuts for six years, and not build a single home until 2025. That is not a response to the worst housing crisis this country has faced in generations.

STEFANOVIC: Your response to that, Minister?

COLLINS: That's not true. We do have homes going up today as we speak. We have homes on the ground in my own home state of Tasmania that people will be moving in soon because of action the Federal Government has taken. I've just outlined for you that we've already unlocked up to $575 million immediately. We have agreed that $500 million will come out from 2024, guaranteed disbursement. That can be altered by the Treasurer and the Finance Minister with amendments that we are making to the bill. And of course, we're going to index this, as was recommended by everybody that presented to the Senate inquiry from 28-29. Let's not forget, this fund has the strong support of people right across the sector - from the homelessness sector, the housing sector, the construction sector. Everybody is saying this bill needs to go ahead. The time for delays is over. The Greens Senators and the Liberal Senators need to have a good look at themselves. I mean, this is additional investment from the federal government. As I've said, we're spending over $8 billion in one year to invest in housing and homelessness. We know how critical this is, which is why we're investing so heavily.

PETER STEFANOVIC: So, will you make any more changes? If you can hear me, Minister? I'll just try one more time. Will you make any more changes?

COLLINS: We’re happy to negotiate right across the Parliament, as we did in the lower house. We're happy to have conversations, but what we don't want is more delays. We cannot have any more delays for this bill. Delays mean longer for homes to get on the ground. And we need to get homes on the ground -

STEFANOVIC: But you're going to need the Greens, though. Can you get them over the line? Will you make more changes to get them over the line?

COLLINS: -as quickly as we can on top of the other investments that I've outlined that we're already making.

STEFANOVIC: Yeah, sure. But you're going to need the Greens to get it over the line. So, will you make any more changes beyond the ones that you've already made to get the Greens over the line, or is that a line in the sand now?

COLLINS: Well, we have made significant concessions to date. We've addressed all eight of the concerns that were raised by the crossbench. We, of course, want to continue to have conversations. We want to see this bill passed through the Senate, but we don't want it delayed any further. We need to have a vote on it. And what we need is more homes on the ground, that's what the government is delivering.

STEFANOVIC: Just another one. If there is, in the event of a financial collapse and we've seen a few of those in recent years, what happens to the guarantee? Because so much of this is an investment. It's a gamble. But if there's -

COLLINS: Of course, this will operate like the other Future Funds have. The other Future Fund, indeed, that the main Future Fund had an average return of over 9 per cent per annum. We anticipate that this fund will be like the other Future funds, and that is the advice we have. And that disbursements will be occurring.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, but you can still guarantee a yearly sum of, what, 500 million?

COLLINS: I can't hear you now.

STEFANOVIC: I'll just try one more time. You can still guarantee a $500 million spend. I might have lost the Minister. Yeah, I might have lost the Minister.

COLLINS: Can you hear me?

STEFANOVIC: I can hear you. Can you hear me?

COLLINS: I seem to be having a lot of trouble with the earpiece today.

STEFANOVIC: We might leave that there. That's the Housing Minister there, I got through most of the questions.