Minister Collins interview on ABC News Breakfast

E&OE Transcript

SUBJECTS: Housing Australia Future Fund.

LISA MILLAR: Housing Minister Julie Collins joins us now. Minister, I hope you don't mind, but just a heads up, we are waiting for this press conference, the police press conference, to begin in Cessnock.

JULIE COLLINS, HOUSING MINISTER: That's fine. Thank you, Lisa.

MILLAR: I suspect everyone will be very keen to find out what has happened there.

COLLINS: Absolutely.

MILLAR: Can you tell me what movement there's been in the last 24 hours and are you any closer to getting this legislation, the Housing Fund legislation, through the Parliament?

COLLINS: Well, what we've done is we have indicated our willingness to clarify some of the issues that have been raised with us about the disbursements from the Housing Australia Future Fund. Clarify that it will be $500 million a year. Clarify how that will work in terms of indexation, and clarify that it can be lifted. This is on top of the whole other things that we have moved on since we first got a letter from the crossbenchers in the Senate. We have moved on all eight of their issues that they have raised with us now. We also, of course, are talking about that this financial year we're spending over $8 billion on housing and homelessness at the federal level. And this is on top of what states and territories are spending in terms of housing, social housing particularly, right across the country.

MILLAR: Yeah, but how is that going to appease the Greens’ demands for tackling the rent rises-

COLLINS: I've lost sound.

MILLAR: - which they wanted to see more of? I'll just keep talking for a second and see whether you get me back. Can you hear me at all, Minister?

COLLINS: I can now. Thank you.

MILLAR: Terrific. How is that going to appease Green's demands for tackling the rising rents, which has been a sticking issue for them?

COLLINS: What we are doing is working right across the Parliament, like we did when we passed it through the lower house, talking to people about their concerns and their issues. Renters’ rights has been put on the National Cabinet agenda. We are working with states and territories about some consistency around renters’ rights. When it comes to the Greens proposal about rent capping, everybody knows the Commonwealth does not have the power to do this. There are eight different states and territories across the country that are all doing different things. Some of them have ruled this out. We also, of course, have data and evidence that this doesn't work and it actually puts downward pressure on supply. What we need to do is add to supply, and that's what we're doing, not just with our Housing Australia Future Fund, but with all of our other investments. Things like the $575 million that we've made available immediately. We have homes under construction today because we made that money available. I know that in my own home state of Tasmania, people will be moving into new premises within weeks because of a decision that we made since we have came to government. And of course, the $1.7 billion this financial year from 1 July that's going to states and territories to invest in more affordable housing. The National Housing Accord, another $350 million from 1 July 2024 for another 10,000 affordable rental homes, that will be matched by states and territories. And of course, this comes on top of the budget measures that we have announced in this year's budget, which is more and more tax changes and concessions for build-to-rent, which the sector indicate will be between 150 and 250,000 additional rentals because of that decision. And then, of course, our $2 billion additional financing for the Housing Investment Finance Corporation.

MILLAR: And Minister, I'm sure you've been putting all this table, on the table to the Greens, but at this stage, is it an accurate assessment of where we're at that the Greens are here and you're here and you both feel like you have compromised?

COLLINS: Well, we're certainly are continuing to have discussions. We're happy to have discussions, but the time for delays is over. This bill has been delayed significantly already. The longer it is delayed, the longer it will take to get more homes on the ground. As soon as it is passed, we can get more homes on the ground.

MILLAR: Ok, Minister I am so sorry. I am going to have to interrupt you to go to this police press conference.

COLLINS: Thank you.

MILLAR: I appreciate it.