Minister Collins interview on Triple M Hobart Breakfast


TOPIC: Reintroducing the Housing Australia Future Fund

TUBES, HOST: Right now we have the Federal MP for Franklin and Australia's Federal Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Julie Collins, who joins us live.


TUBES: It's great to have you here. You've reached out to the Triple M Breakfast with Woody and Tubes Show to announce something special that's happening. What have you got to announce, Minister?

COLLINS: Well, next week in the Federal Parliament, we will be reintroducing our Housing Australia Future Fund bill. That is a $10 billion fund to build homes. We're talking about the Fund building 30,000 homes in the first five years of the fund. We need to get this bill through the Parliament. It got blocked last time by the Greens teaming up with the Liberals in the Senate. We want to reintroduce it. We want to get this bill done so we can get more homes on the ground.

WOODY, HOST: So, why is that so? You said it was blocked by the Greens and obviously there's a massive homelessness crisis in Tassie. Why was it blocked and what have you had to change to be able to reintroduce it? Minister?

COLLINS: We're introducing the bill as it was. We have obviously the whole time been negotiating. Last time we introduced the Bill into the House, we got the support of the other crossbenchers. So, all of the Teals and the other crossbenches, we even had Bridget Archer cross the floor to support the bill. People understand that we need to get this bill through the Parliament. It's got the support of the community housing sector, it's got the support of the construction sector. So, the HIA, the Master Builders, the Property Council. Everybody supports getting this bill through, right down to homelessness services and people on the front line, because they understand we need to get these homes built. But obviously the Fund is not the only thing we are doing. We've also, of course, got our social housing accelerator, which was $2 billion, which we've given Tasmanian state government $50 million of that. And they need to tell us by the end of August what they're going to do to invest that money here in Tasmania. We've also done a $1.7 billion extension to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. We, of course, unlocked $575 million immediately. And yesterday I had a great opportunity up in North West Tassie to go and meet with some tenants from some of the beneficiaries of some of this funding in terms of getting homes on the ground up there. When you talk to the new residents and you hear their stories about homelessness and how they've been using their time every day just to make sure they've got somewhere safe to sleep that night and how they're going to eat. It's just heartbreaking. And some of these people have been on the list for years, waiting.

TUBES: There is a crisis, Minister. There is a crisis at the moment, and obviously, $10 billion to secure Australia's future housing is great, but how are you going to build those houses?

COLLINS: Well, we've been talking to the sector, as I said, the Master Builders, the HIA and the Property Council, and they tell me that there'll be more capacity in the sector, which is why we've timed things the way we did, and which is why we needed the bill passed before 1 July. We know that every day of delay is $1.3 million not being spent on housing. So, we want to get these built. We're told by the sector that they'll be able to have more capacity in the latter half of this year, early next year. But obviously, it takes a while to plan these homes. And the community housing providers and the State Governments can't plan these homes until the bill is actually passed. And they could have got homes on the ground immediately, starting to plan this work and get homes built. And we're being told by the sector that the delay, by the blocking, is costing around 8000 homes to 12,000 homes that are not being built because of that delay.

TUBES: How confident are you that this bill will pass? Because if it doesn't pass, we're under a double dissolution, and then I believe that means we go to another election.

COLLINS: Well, our focus is on getting the bill through. We are obviously using every opportunity that we can to get the bill through. We're using everything available to us because we know that there are Tasmanians and Australians that need this bill through the Parliament. That's what we're being told by the sector. We need to get it done. Our focus is on building houses and getting this bill through. Our focus is not on those other things. It's just on getting homes built and getting this bill through.

WOODY: And it's important that these issues are bigger than political alliances, right, because this is a huge issue. And we hope that our Parliamentarians can work together to resolve and fix or alleviate this stress that's happening state by state.

TUBES: I'll ask it again, though, Minister. How confident are you that this will pass?

COLLINS: Well, we've already got support, obviously, of Jacqui Lambie and Tammy Tyrrell from Tassie. We've got support of David Pocock. This is another opportunity, really, for the Liberal Senators and for the Green Senators to reconsider how urgent this bill is and to make their decision based on Australian people that need homes. Stop basing it on the politics. This is about people, and they should be focused on the people that need these homes.

TUBES: Julie Collins, the Federal MP for Franklin and the Minister for Housing and Homelessness. We appreciate your time on Triple M breakfast.

COLLINS: Thanks very much. Take care.