TOPICS: New affordable housing at Westmead; Albanese Government’s ambitious housing agenda; Social Housing Accelerator; Australia's relationship with China; NZYQ High Court case
JULIE COLLINS, MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND MINISTER FOR HOMELESSNESS: Thanks, it's terrific to be back here on site. I think it's been almost a year to the day that I was first here turning the sod with local member, Andrew Charlton, and, of course, with AXA, and with St George housing. This is a terrific project. These are the types of projects we want to see more of. What we're talking about here, of course, is 400 new rental homes – Built-to-Rent. We're talking half of them at affordable or social level. This is the type of mixed tenure development that we want to see more of as a government. We also of course, have had Housing Ministers meet yesterday and what has been a big year since I was here last, and there has been enormous progress. The $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator - a direct injection into more houses. And we were able to say from yesterday that 1500 new homes, social homes, will be here in New South Wales as a result of that direct $610 million investment that New South Wales gets out of the Social Housing Accelerator. We of course, have made some Build-to-Rent changes. We have increased Commonwealth Rent Assistance for some of those people that are renting that are eligible. We have had our Housing Australia Future Fund pass the Parliament. The $10 billion Fund that will enable some projects like this to go forward. We unlocked the $575 million immediately. And of course, we're now going to add another billion dollars to the National Housing Infrastructure Facility. This is on top of the $3.5 billion that came out of National Cabinet with reforms in terms of the New Homes Bonus to get more supply on the ground and try and overreach our 1 million homes ambitious target from 1 July 2024.
And then, of course, we've got projects like this, that we can see the actual progress on the ground since I was here last year. This is a terrific project for key workers. I'm really pleased to see the progress that's happened today. And I look forward to seeing this particular project advance much, much further. But I'm off after this event to go and see yet more homes being built across New South Wales, with the support of the Federal Government. These are the types of partnerships that we want to see more of. We want to see working with institutional investors, Community Housing providers, and of course, with the Federal Government, and often state governments and local governments as well. It is only by all of us working together and heading in the same direction and we're doing that work of the National Housing and Homelessness Plan about how we better do that. And of course, the National Housing Accord, which is the target now 1.2 million homes. And we've also funded of course, another 10,000 affordable homes as part of that National Housing Accord, so it's been a very big year in terms of housing and in terms of the Federal Government stepping up to the plate. There's always more to do but we are looking forward to seeing progress on actual projects on the ground like we're seeing here today. Thanks.
SCOTT LANGFORD, ST GEORGE COMMUNITY HOUSING: So thank you very much, Minister. We appreciate you coming back in 12 months, it might not look like a lot of progress. But a year ago we stood at the top of the site and since then the Deicorp team have been starting the hard work of creating what will become close to 400 new homes. I want to acknowledge and thank Fouad and the entire Deicorp team. We need great partners in the development and construction industry to help create homes. And we're incredibly proud of the partnership with Deicorp. The fact that they're bringing the best of their expertise, the best of their team, to a project like this, and the care and passion they have for the quality of homes they're creating speaks to the character of the organisation and the opportunity that we have to do more together.
And I think it is in those partnerships between government, the private sector, investors like AXA and community housing providers like SGCH, that we can start to create the change that's needed, when so many in our community are struggling to find a safe, sustainable and affordable place to call home. So we look forward to another update in a year and in 2025, to finally being able to open these homes, but fantastic to hear that there are tens of thousands of homes being created around the country. And of course also acknowledge our partners, Housing Australia, led by CEO Nathan Dal Bon, they’re doing a terrific job at mobilising the forces of investment that are going to support many of those homes. Thank you all very much for being here. I know the Minister's got to give some updates and take some questions. But we really appreciate the entire team's commitment, and really the partnerships that are delivering for all of us. Thank you.
COLLINS: Thanks for that update, really appreciate the hard work that's gone on by everybody to get to this stage. But as said, I hope that we have many more of these projects, and a lot more work underway right across New South Wales and across the country. Questions.
JOURNALIST: Excellent. Thank you, Minister. What's the timeline for these 1500 homes that you spoke about earlier from yesterday's meeting? And are there others like and other numbers been discussed for other states as well?
COLLINS: They have. The $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator has already been provided, the funding to the states. We expect around 4000 homes nationally will be new homes add into supply for social housing right across the country. And that money needs to be expended or fully contracted by states and territories within two years. We are and we have put up the implementation reports with some timeframes. We expect some of those homes to be habitable towards the end of next year in terms of what the states and territories have provided to us. But that will vary obviously, around the country. In the meantime, of course, we've got the states and the territories, working on their planning reforms blueprints that came out a National Cabinet and you've seen some announcements already from states and territories about how they can improve the process to get more homes on the ground more quickly.
JOURNALIST: Excellent. On housing affordability and supply, do you believe that increasing migration numbers are causing any pressure on housing options?
COLLINS: We understand that so many Australians are doing it tough, whether it's the third of Australians that rent, or the third of Australians that have mortgages, which is why we know we need to add to supply. We have had a housing issue in Australia for some time. Pre pandemic, we don't have the same average of houses as the OECD average. We have been below that for many, many years, we have a lot of catching up to do. There are no silver bullets here. There are a whole range of answers to this. And we're putting together the pieces of the puzzle. And as I said, we're working on a long term 10 year National Housing and Homelessness Plan, together with the states and territories and the sector. We have the National Housing Accord with the aspiration of 1.2 million homes from 1 July 2024. What we need to do is have all of us heading in the same direction agree on what we can agree on and start heading in the same direction so that we can get more homes on the ground more quickly right across the country.
JOURNALIST: So that's a no then, to migration having added pressure?
COLLINS: We of course, have said that we're cleaning up the mess when it comes to migration and you've heard from Minister Clare O'Neil in relation to that. In the meantime, we've had a housing supply issue in Australia for some time, pre-pandemic, and we're getting on with the job with adding to supply I listed earlier the whole range of measures that we have right across the housing spectrum, whether it be into home ownership or whether it be social housing and homelessness, right across the housing system. We're working with our partners in the states and territories and with the sector.
JOURNALIST: Just on China Minister, China's denied its used sonar while Australian divers were underwater. How would you describe that response that denial? And will the government make representations to China again, given they are denying the use of sonar?
COLLINS: Look, I think the Prime Minister has been pretty clear that we have made representations to China at the highest levels. We have had those discussions through the appropriate channels as we always do. You know, we have a relationship with China that is mature, that is patient, that is considered. We say that we agree where we can and we disagree where we must and the Prime Minister was pretty clear about this yesterday.
JOURNALIST: Just following the high court's decision on immigration detention. Do you think that laws maybe should be introduced to re-detain some non-citizens so they don't remain in the community?
COLLINS: We've been pretty clear, and the Minister Clare O’Neil has been clear all the way along, we argued against the release of these detainees. We are concerned about the detainees being in the community, which is why we've put legislation through the Parliament in terms of bridging visas with very strict conditions on. We argued against the detainees being released. We did not want them released. We're looking at all the options available to us. And we need to see of course, the reasons from the High Court for the decision that it made. We of course, need to abide by the law and the constitution and the High Court has made a decision and we're abiding by that law. Thank you.