Additional Comments from the Australian Greens
This report and its recommendations are the first serious attempt to
address the chronic housing affordability crisis during the term of the Abbott
government. Its refusal to sign on or engage meaningfully with the
recommendations or intent of this report is disappointing in the extreme. It is
also perplexing. The Treasurer on one hand has recently acknowledged the
housing affordability crisis in Australia and announced a Housing Affordability
Taskforce, yet on the other delivered a Budget that abolished over $590 million
of homelessness and housing affordability programs, and then axed the three
peak expert bodies on homelessness and housing three days before Christmas.
The Australian Greens appreciate the collaborative and professional way
the Inquiry was conducted over the last year, and thank the many expert
witnesses who participated.
We particularly wish to thank the witnesses who were experiencing
homelessness at the time they participated in the inquiry. Their experiences
and advice described to the committee were powerful and moving, and we note
have translated to concrete recommendations. We strongly urge Federal, State
and Local governments to talk to, rather than about, the homeless, and act with
the urgency and compassion desperately needed in this country.
We note the recommendation proposed by people experiencing homelessness
to investigate Centrelink as a one stop shop to assist people experiencing or
at risk of homelessness, with referral and in-house expertise to link clients
with services and housing. This one single action could change the lives of
hundreds of thousands of Australians who are currently experiencing or at risk
We also wish to thank and acknowledge those witnesses and tireless
advocates who gave evidence on the basis of expertise - even as they were being
defunded by the government.
Since the last Senate Inquiry into Housing Affordability in 2008, not
only has the housing affordability crisis deepened, but countless initiatives
introduced after the report was delivered have been abolished by the current
government. It is hard to overestimate the impact of axing the Ministerial
Housing Portfolio, the National Housing Supply Council, Major Cities Unit,
National Urban Policy, Ministerial Council on Homelessness, National
Partnership Agreement capital program for new homelessness shelters, COAG
Reform Council on Housing, Housing Help for Seniors Program, National Rental
Affordability Scheme, First Home Savers Scheme, Housing Affordability and
Innovation grants program, and national expert peak bodies Homelessness
Australia, National Shelter and the Community Housing Federation of Australia.
The Australian Greens support the findings and recommendations of the
committee but wish to make some additional comments.
The report includes what we believe to be a missed opportunity to engage
meaningfully with Commonwealth tax reform. This is an area in which the Greens
will continue to be strong advocates.
The issue of Inclusionary Zoning – or setting mandatory targets for
affordable housing in developments over a certain size usually at the state
government level - was also ignored despite its local and international success
in delivering diverse types of affordable housing. The Australian government
and opposition has much to learn from local examples in South Australia as well
as numerous European cities, where targets of 15-33% affordable housing
(including private rentals) are being routinely delivered as part of development
models that deliberately include private and non for profit housing companies
as part of the development consortium, and where government plays a direct
The Australian Greens believe the committee report paints a partial
picture, and represents an incomplete roadmap to Housing Affordability.
To this end the Australian Greens recommend:
That the Commonwealth include inclusionary zoning targets in any
national affordable housing plan using evidence-based models to assess the
impact of inclusionary zoning on housing supply and affordability.
In addition to the
recommendations, the Greens commend our 9 point National Housing
Roadmap – a comprehensive and costed plan
to address Australia’s Housing Crisis – as a contribution to the debate, and look
forward to these issues being dealt with the urgency they deserve.
To this end the Australian Greens recommend:
the funding currently available for specialist homeless services and build
7,000 new homes for people currently sleeping rough as a matter of urgency. At
a cost of $900 million – 1 billion a year to 2020 this would end the most
urgent need in homelessness and mean over 400 people in crisis each day were
not being turned away from services.
the social waiting list within the decade by providing funding to build
122,000 new social housing homes - enough to halve the waiting list in ten
years and provide a home for more than 250,000 Australians languishing on the
waiting lists. This would cost $700 million per year, plus $25 million
per year for a new affordable housing supply bonds instrument.
an Affordable Housing Supply Bond instrument to provide a safe and tested
mechanism that would generate $2 billion of finance from a $25 million per year
government investment, and would allow large institutional investors and
smaller mum and dad investors to invest in affordable social housing and
a Better Deal for Renters package that would include establishing a new
national body to introduce national minimum standards for rentals, boost
renters' rights, make rental properties safer, more sustainable, energy and
water efficient, and more affordable. Under the Greens plan, landlords will be
offered a package worth $500 per property to help them make upgrades and meet
the new national standard. It would also provide an extra $3 million for
Tenants’ Advocacy services. This package would cost $103 million per year.
the Henry Tax Review recommendation to reduce Capital Gains Tax concessions on
investments (including property) by 10% as a minimum, as a costed
revenue initiative. This would save $3.4 billion over the forward estimates and
would provide much needed revenue to be used to build affordable housing.
85,000 new affordable rentals over the next decade, including funding for
20,000 student rentals through a new University NRAS scheme.
a 'Convert to Rent' scheme to provide financial assistance to property
owners to help convert vacant or unused space into rental units to provide
affordable housing to low income households. Just $345 million over ten years
would fund 15,000 conversions.
our entire social housing stock by installing solar panels and insulation on
every single Australian social housing dwelling to help tenants save energy
and money. $78.3 million per year over ten years would see 520,000 social
housing homes retrofitted and repowered, saving tenants about $500 per year and
contributing significantly to reducing carbon emissions; and
an Australian-made prefabricated housing industry to quickly, sustainably and
cheaply build affordable homes – and boost local jobs and innovation at the
same time. The Greens plan would introduce a $50 million sustainable
prefabricated modular housing industry package over 5 years to provide support
for Research and Development, Innovation, Excellence in Design, skills and
training, assistance establishing new production and manufacturing facilities,
and demonstration projects. The package would also establish direct
opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to obtain
training, trade qualifications, and employment across the prefabricated housing
Greens Senator for Western Australia
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