Additional Comments by Labor Senators

Additional Comments by Labor Senators

Introductory remarks

1.1Labor Senators thank those who have given evidence to the committee, particularly those with, or advocating on behalf of, lived rental experience.

1.2Although many of the issues discussed throughout the inquiry primarily remain the responsibility of the states and territories, Labor Senators understand that solutions to these concerns require the coordination and collaboration at all tiers of government.

1.3Labor Senators note that more than 30 per cent of Australians were renting their home at the last census. This is a significant portion of our community, and we must do more to ensure they feel heard and that their concerns are listened to. The Albanese Labor Government will continue to listen to the particular concerns those who are renting currently have.

1.4We heard from our community and over the course of the inquiry about the challenges that affect rental affordability, tenure security and duration, minimum standards, and barriers to the enforceability of your rights.Safe and affordable housing is central to the security and dignity of all Australians and will always be a priority of a Labor government.

1.5Through National Cabinet, and the Better Deal for Renters, the Albanese Labor Government is working with the states and territories to harmonise and strengthen renters’ rights. The evidence heard by this committee shows the importance of this work, and the report highlights important factors for state and territory governments to consider when implementing these reforms.

1.6As we heard during the inquiry, Australia’s housing challenges are the result of complex factors. The Albanese Government is committed to working with state, territory and local governments to implement long-lasting reforms that will have a significant impact on housing outcomes for Australians, including those renting a home.

1.7Additionally, and as outlined in our additional comments to the committee’s interim report, the Albanese Government has committed to an ambitious housing reform agenda which will boost the supply of all housing—more public and social housing, more affordable housing, more homes to rent and more homes to buy. The evidence throughout this inquiry and more broadly clearly shows that improving supply is critical to delivering more affordable housing.

Building investment in social and affordable housing, and taking pressure off the rental market

1.8While most Australians will never interact with the social housing system, it remains an important safety net for Australians who need it most. Unfortunately, it has been declining over time, due in part to the decade of little action by the former Coalition government.

1.9Evidence provided to the committee varied widely on the scale of the challenge in social and affordable housing,[1] however it was clear that greater investment in social and affordable housing was required to meet the needs of Australians who are experiencing difficult circumstances, and to alleviate pressures on the private housing market.

1.10This is why the Albanese Labor Government has invested in a range of measures to boost the supply of social and affordable housing in Australia, including:

The $10 billion dollar Housing Australia Future Fund, which has now started and will support the delivery of 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes in its first five years.

The $2 billion dollar Social Housing Accelerator, whose funds have already been provided to state and territory governments to build 4,000 new social homes.

Expanding the National Housing Infrastructure Facility by unlocking $575 million dollars to allow it to support social and affordable housing, and committing to invest another $1 billion dollars into the Fund for social housing.

Delivering 10,000 new affordable homes, matched by the states and territories, through the National Housing Accord.

Increasing Housing Australia’s ability to provide concessional loans to community housing providers.

Federal funding of $3 billion through the New Homes Bonus to help incentivise states and territories to build more homes where people need them to meet a new national target of 1.2 million new homes over five years.

A $500 million Housing Support Program for initiatives to help kick start housing supply including connecting essential services, amenities to support new housing development or building planning capability.

The largest increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance in more than 30 years that is being provided, with a 15 per cent increase in the maximum rate.

1.11Taken together, Labor Senators acknowledge the investment by the Albanese Labor Government as the most significant investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade.

Recommendation 1

1.12Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to support investment in social and affordable housing.

1.13The committee also heard a wide range of evidence on the important role that increasing supply of all types of housing can have on bringing down the costs of housing.

1.14The Grattan Institute in their submission estimates that if the rate of construction agreed to by states and territories in the National Housing Accord and National Planning Reform Blueprint is maintained for a decade, rents could fall by 8 per cent, saving renters $32 billion dollars in total.[2]

1.15Labor Senators acknowledge the broad support for the planning reforms agreed to by states and territories under the Blueprint and the role they can play in supporting renters.

Recommendation 2

1.16Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to work with the state and territory governments to implement planning and zoning reforms, including those outlined in the National Planning Reform Blueprint.

Strengthening the rights of renters

1.17As more Australians are renting their home, and for longer, it becomes more important that the residential tenancy laws of the states and territories are fit for purpose in the modern era.

1.18The Albanese Labor Government coordinated National Cabinet’s ‘A Better Deal for Renters’ is a landmark agreement between the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to drive stronger, and more harmonious rights for renters in Australia.

1.19Labor Senators thank those who provided a significant amount of testimony and evidence to the committee about how some of these reforms have already been implemented in some of the states and territories.

1.20While state and territory governments are responsible for implementing the reforms agreed in ‘A Better Deal for Renters’, the contents of the committee report may be useful guidance to those jurisdictions.

Recommendation 3

1.21Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to work with the state and territory governments for them to implement a ban on soliciting rent bidding.

Recommendation 4

1.22Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to work with the state and territory governments on implementing the agreement to make rental applications easier and protect renters’ personal information.

Recommendation 5

1.23Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to work with the state and territory governments to develop a nationally consistent policy to implement a requirement for genuine reasonable grounds for eviction, having consideration to the current actions of some jurisdictions.

Recommendation 6

1.24Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to work with the state and territory governments on phasing in minimum quality standards for rental properties.

Recommendation 7

1.25Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to work with the state and territory governments on considering options for better regulation of short-stay residential accommodation, which may include better data collection.

1.26Labor Senators also acknowledge that many submitters raised issues outside of those agreed as part of ‘A Better Deal for Renters’.

1.27While, ultimately, further reforms are the responsibility of states and territories, we encourage states, territories and the Australian Government to continue to work together to improve housing outcomes for renters.

Recommendation 8

1.28Labor Senators recommend the Australian Government continue to work with the state and territory governments following the implementation of A Better Deal for Renters to identify further reforms to strengthen renters’ rights and provide greater national consistency for renters.

Immediate assistance for renters that doesn’t make the problem worse

1.29A significant focus of this committee has been examining the calls from stakeholders for the introduction of rent controls, particularly a temporary freeze on rents followed by regulation to cap rental increases.

1.30Labor Senators acknowledge there was a wide range of views for and against rental control measures presented to the committee.

1.31On the balance of the evidence provided to the committee from housing policy experts, Labor Senators are of the view that the potential unintended consequences of implementing a strict rent freeze and additional rent control measures are too great a risk to bear and could ultimately make things worse for those they seek to help.[3]

1.32Instead, Labor Senators acknowledge measures like the recent increase to Commonwealth Rent Assistance, which recent CPI data shows has had a measurable impact on moderating rents paid across the housing market.[4]

1.33Further, as outlined above, ultimately the best solution we have to improve rental affordability is greater supply of housing across the entire housing spectrum. This will remain the focus of the Albanese Labor Government.

Senator Marielle SmithSenator Louise Pratt


[1]See, for example, Mr Hugh Hartigan, Head of Research, National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, Committee Hansard, 27 September 2023, pp. 59–60; Mr Matt Lloyd-Cape, Director, Per Capita Centre for Equitable Housing, Committee Hansard, 27 September 2023, p. 44; Centre for Urban Research, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Submission 11, p. 7; Community Housing Industry Association, Submission 41, pp. 12–14.

[2]Grattan Institute, Submission 127, p. 14.

[3]See, for example, Per Capita, Submission 61, pp. 11 and 48–51; The McKell Institute, Submission 164, p. 6; Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Submission 57, pp. 50–51; Abundant Housing Network Australia, Submission 64, p. 23; Grattan Institute, Submission 127, pp. 2 and 22; Property Investors Council of Australia, Submission 155.

[4]Australian Bureau of Statistics, Monthly Consumer Price Index Indicator, October 2023, 29 November 2023, (accessed 5 December 2023).