Minister Collins interview on Today


TOPIC: The Housing Australia Future Fund. 

KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Some relief for our country's housing crisis could be on the horizon as Labor's $10 billion housing policy is set to pass through Parliament as soon as this week. Let's bring in Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Julie Collins. Julie, good morning to you.


STEFANOVIC: Nice to see you. You better get cracking. 600 homes a day for the next five years to make 1.2 million. You got Buckley's, haven't you?

COLLINS: Well, obviously we're not building all of the 1.2 million homes over five years by ourselves. But we are investing more in social and affordable housing, and that's what the Housing Australia Future Fund is all about. We're talking here about the single biggest investment from a Federal Government in more than a decade, a $10 billion fund with the returns of that fund being invested each and every year, going on for decades into social and affordable housing. But that is on top of all of the other measures we're doing. And, of course, you mentioned our target of the 1.2 million homes over five years from 1 July 2024. We know that's ambitious, but I think we need to be ambitious. We need to build more homes of every type for Australians that need them.

STEFANOVIC: Ambitious or impossible? Right now, we're struggling to build 165,000 homes a year, and you want to add another 200,000 to that. I don't know how that happens.

COLLINS: We're obviously working and talking to the construction sector. They say the million homes is achievable. What we're doing is incentivising states and territories to change, and do some planning and zoning reforms to make sure that we can build additional homes over that million homes. We obviously are working with states and territories, but we're also investing importantly into social housing, which is community and public housing for Australians that need the most. The important thing about this $10 billion fund is it's for people who are currently on social housing waiting lists right across the country. People who are at risk of homelessness right across the country. This has always been about people that need homes for us.

STEFANOVIC: I think that's a fantastic ideal, but I don't know how it doesn't impact on already significant supply issues, capacity constraints, shortfalls in materials, shortages of workers. How do you solve that?

COLLINS: We obviously have a range of measures, and we've been talking to the sector, as I said, Karl. We know that detached residential dwellings are coming off. We anticipate that towards the end of this year, early next year, that the sector will have capacity. We're aiming to fill that with more social and affordable homes to make sure that we can keep the construction sector employed. We also, of course, have our fee free TAFE in terms of skills and training up more Australians to fill those jobs. We also, of course, have our National Reconstruction Fund to make sure that we have more of the materials made here in Australia that we need for important things like housing construction.

STEFANOVIC: So, you've got no doubt you can do it?

COLLINS: Look, we've always been told that it was achievable but ambitious, and we're absolutely determined to be ambitious for the Australian people. We want to get more homes of every type on the ground. We've already added to homelessness services. We already have homes underway today because of decisions we took early as a government. The additional $2 billion in financing for the National Housing Finance Investment Corporation, the $575 million that we unlocked straight away. So, we already have homes under construction today. What the $10 billion fund and the additional $1 billion that we'll be putting in means that we'll be able to get more homes on the ground more quickly. And I'm really pleased that the Fund is set to pass the Parliament this week, and I want to thank everybody across the Parliament, but particularly I want to thank all those community housing organisations, states and territories, the people who have lobbied really hard to get this Fund through the Parliament.

STEFANOVIC: The Greens didn't succeed in limiting rent increases. Are they still lurking with intent?

COLLINS: Look, we've been pretty clear that the answer to rents for Australians - and we know that renters have been doing it tough - is actually more supply. I'm in Sydney this morning, I'm talking to the housing sector here about more build-to-rent. This is about making sure that we can get more of the Australian super funds investing in broad scale rentals here in Australia. They already do this overseas, we want more of that here in Australia. We want to make sure we get houses of every type to take away some of that pressure on renters, because we know they are doing it tough, Karl.

STEFANOVIC: The Greens really got under the PM's skin, didn't they?

COLLINS: Look, we've been negotiating with people right across the Parliament. We've said that from the very beginning. We have been negotiating and talking to other crossbenchers. We have been determined to get this bill through because we know how important it is to make sure that that return and that fund is there going forward forever. This is about stopping some of the stop start of the construction of social and affordable homes. It is about making sure that there's a pipeline, so that we're not in this position again, Karl. That's what it's about.

STEFANOVIC: All right. It is ambitious. Julie, all the very best with it.