13 September 2023

Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has criticised the Labor Government and the Coalition, after the major parties voted down her amendments to the Government’s Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) Bill on Wednesday moved by Senator David Pocock in the Senate on Dr Haines’ behalf.

“The housing crisis is the biggest issue facing regional Australia yet it is a complete blind spot for this Government. Almost one in three Australians live outside the big cities, yet I constantly have to remind this Government about how the housing crisis is impacting people in regional, rural and remote communities,” Dr Haines said.

The amendments would have:

1. ensured the housing needs of people regional, rural and remote Australia are clearly considered under the Bill; and

2. required reviews of the Fund’s spending to consider the extent to which the new laws meet the housing needs of regional, rural and remote Australians.

“What I put forward were common-sense amendments to ensure the housing needs of regional, rural and remote Australians are explicitly considered in this legislation,” Dr Haines said.

“Regional communities will continue to be overlooked unless laws recognise our specific needs, and agencies are required to be transparent about how money is distributed to meet those needs.

“Without these amendments there is no guarantee that the billions of dollars announced for housing will flow to regional Australia, and the communities where it is needed most.”

Dr Haines had been working closely with Housing Minister Julie Collins and met with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to speak about the need for the Government’s signature housing policy to expressly include regional, rural and remote Australia.

When the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill was debated in the House of Representatives earlier this year, Dr Haines moved the same amendments as those moved by Senator Pocock on Wednesday. At the time, Minister Collins acknowledged the importance of Dr Haines’ work but said they would be considered later.

“I went to the Government in good faith, I worked constructively with them, but it’s clear they have no idea that addressing the housing crisis in regional Australia is different to addressing housing issues in the major cities,” Dr Haines said.

“It is deeply disappointing that the Government is not listening to the challenges and concerns of regional people. I am shocked National and Liberal Senators from the regions did not back in this amendment. They need to explain why they voted against the interests of their constituents.”

Dr Haines has been working consistently on improving federal housing policies and funding for regional, rural and remote Australia, including by amending the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council Bill to ensure regional representation and that the Council specifically considers the impacts of geographic location on housing supply and affordability.

Dr Haines has also introduced a Private Member’s Bill in parliament on Monday directly addressing the housing crisis in regional, rural and remote Australia. The Unlocking Regional Housing Bill would make funding easier to access for social and affordable housing projects in regional Australia andwould direct the Minister to look at action so that at least 30 per cent of funding to go to regional, rural and remote Australia.


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