TOPIC/S: Housing Australia Future Fund legislation
SARAH ABO, HOST: We're joined by Housing Minister Julie Collins in Canberra. Minister, thanks so much for your time this morning. How confident are you that you'll succeed this time around? I mean, is this threat of a double disillusioned election real?
JULIE COLLINS, MINISTER FOR HOUSING: Well, I think what it shows is that we're serious about trying to get this bill through the Parliament. What we want to do is get on and we want to build more homes for Australians that need them most. That's what this bill is about. It's a bill that we took to the last election, a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. We expect to build 30,000 more homes in five years, in the first five years of this fund. These are homes for Australians that need it most, including $200 million towards Indigenous housing repairs, $100 million for transitional accommodation and $30 million for veterans, homeless and housing services. We want to get this bill through the Parliament and we're deadly serious about getting it through the Parliament.
ABO: Well, we all know we need more housing. It's become very desperate right across this country, especially as immigration increases. I mean, you're demanding the Greens and Coalition get out of the way, but that's unlikely.
COLLINS: Well, we obviously want to have constructive conversations right across the Parliament, but this is really up to the Greens, to the Liberals and the Nationals. We do have some crossbench support in the Senate and indeed in the House. We even had one Liberal cross floor in the lower House. But this is not about politicians. This is about people on the ground. This is about people like I met last week in North West Tasmania. This is about people who have been homeless for years, people who have spending every time during their entire day trying to find somewhere safe to live. This is about people like Lauree, who I spoke to, who said to me, now that I've got a home, she's been in that home just over a week, she can go back to school. That's what it's about. It's about people on the ground, people who are waiting for homes right across the country, homes that will change their lives.
ABO: Trading is always happening in Canberra, though. This is the problem that we face. I mean, the Greens want a cap on rent hikes. Are you willing to compromise? I mean, why do you oppose that?
COLLINS: Look, we've been pretty clear. We do not have the powers to do what the Greens are asking. What we want to do is to get on and build more homes. We have a bill before the Parliament. We're going to reintroduce it today so that it will be before the Parliament that will actually build more homes for Australians that need them most. It has broad support, it has broad support right across the community housing sector, right across the construction sector. The peak bodies that look after homeless services, they all support this bill in the Federal Parliament. They want to see it passed. So, I would call on the Greens, the Liberals and the National Senators to rethink this, to talk to some of those peaks, but importantly, to talk to some Australians who are waiting desperately for houses today.
ABO: And so what about renters out there?
COLLINS: Well, we, of course, are concerned about the more than 30% of Australians that rent, and the answer to rent is to add to supply. And we have already announced changes that will help add to supply: our Housing Accord, our ambition to build a million homes across the country from 1 July 2024. We're working with states and territories on reforms to meet that target. We, of course, have announced changes to Build-to-Rent, and we, of course, have announced changes to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance, the largest increase in more than 30 years. And we're currently trying to get that change through the Parliament.
ABO: All right, well, with the threat of an early election, today will be an interesting day indeed. Thanks so much for your time.
COLLINS: Appreciate it.