House of Representatives, 10 August 2023
Here in the ACT and across the country, housing affordability has become a major challenge. Under the former government, home ownership rates in Australia fell to a 50-year low. Many Australians are struggling to pay the rent. Since coming to office, our government has focused on improving access to housing and tackling the homelessness challenge. We've invested in the Social Housing Accelerator. We're expanding build-to-rent, including right here in the ACT. Through National Cabinet, states and territories have committed to improving renters' rights. I commend the hard work of the Housing Minister Julie Collins on achieving these outcomes. We've delivered the biggest increase in the Commonwealth's rental assistance in 30 years.
But unfortunately, a no-alition of the Liberals and the Greens is blocking the Housing Australia Future Fund, a major investment in housing supply. For every day that that blockage continues, 16 more houses don't get built. So, by standing in the way of the Housing Australia Future Fund, the Greens are blocking housing supply.
But the Greens have an even nuttier idea: a nationwide rent freeze for two years. The problem is that the Greens don't seem to understand that markets have sellers as well as buyers and that we need to think about incentives for landlords as well as for tenants. You don't have to care about the wellbeing of landlords to understand how a two-year rent freeze would hurt tenants. If you think it's hard to find a rental property now, imagine how much harder it would be in an environment in which landlords were fleeing in droves because the rent they earned couldn't keep up with the costs they were paying. If you want a policy that will reduce the supply of rental houses, then a two-year nationwide rent freeze is that. If a price freeze were such a good idea, why wouldn't we deal with the challenge of more expensive cars, bread and tomatoes by similarly freezing their prices? The answer is, as we know from countless examples in other countries, that price freezes create shortages. We need more supply, not less.
I call on the Greens to pass the Housing Australia Future Fund and to stop playing undergraduate games. The only reason they're advocating a rent freeze right now is that they know that, as with so many of their policies, this one will never be implemented and they can play their games, as they did when they blocked the CPRS in 2009 and as they're doing in speculating about no longer asking high-income earners to contribute anything to the cost of their university education. The Greens need to understand the importance of supply and back the Housing Australia Future Fund.