16 February 2023
Haines amends housing bills to better serve regional and rural Australia
Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has successfully amended the Government’s housing package bills to include better representation of regional, rural and remote Australia.
The Government housing package, which aims to build 30,000 social and affordable houses in its first five years, passed the House of Representatives on Thursday morning.
“Housing is a critical issue in Indi. It is at crisis level. Everywhere I go, whether it’s a small town or a large regional centre, people talk to me about how hard it is to find a place to live that is affordable and appropriate,” Dr Haines said.
“Addressing the housing crisis is the first step to addressing other issues we face, like finding health workers or growing our businesses. I am working with the Government to make sure regional Australia isn’t left out of these reforms.
“The former government’s version of the housing fund only spent 25 per cent of the $1 billion they promised and none of that came to Indi. There was no specific funding directed to regional and rural Australia. We can’t have another missed opportunity with this fund.”
Dr Haines moved a series of amendments to the bills creating the Housing Australia Future Fund and the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council to ensure housing in regional, rural and remote Australia is properly funded and considered.
“My amendments respond to the issues in the housing sector experienced in regional Australia and make sure that the fund is spent in the most effective way possible,” Dr Haines said.
Dr Haines moved a series of amendments to the bills, including changes that would:
- Add an object of the Housing Australia Future Fund Act to provide a funding mechanism for the acute housing needs of Australians living in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- Add an object of the Housing Australia Future Fund Act to include critical enabling infrastructure for new social and affordable housing in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- Ensure the needs of regional, rural and remote Australia are explicitly considered under the Bills
The successful amendments agreed to by the government will:
- Ensure at least one member of the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council has demonstrated and relevant experience or expertise in housing needs in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- Ensure the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council considers the impacts of geographical location (e.g. regional, rural or remote location) on housing supply and affordability and on the demand for affordable housing.
Housing Minister Julie Collins said in Parliament more work would be done in the Senate process on how the package will address housing issues in regional Australia and Dr Haines is continuing work on the full suite of amendments.
“I’m optimistic on these amendments and will work with Senators to keep up the fight for these changes,” Dr Haines said.
“I am disappointed National MPs and most Liberal MPs representing regional seats did not support my amendments. Only the Member for Bass Bridget Archer stood up for her regional community to support my improvements, while other MPs failed to show up for their electorates.”