Independent Federal Member for Indi Helen Haines has written to the Treasurer and Housing Minister to push for regional, rural and remote communities to receive an equitable share of housing funding to build social and affordable homes.
In a submission to the Government’s Investment Mandate, the Ministerial directive on how housing funding will be invested, Dr Haines was critical of the lack of dedicated funding to build homes in regional Australia.
“I successfully negotiated two amendments to the Government’s housing bills earlier this year. Further amendments to ensure regional communities get their fair share of housing funding were not agreed to by the Government, but I was assured by the Housing Minister those proposed amendments would be included in the Housing Australia Investment Mandate. Unfortunately, they have not,” Dr Haines said.
“This is deeply disappointing. I will hold the Minister to her word to ensure regional, rural and remote Australia is not left behind in the effort to build more social and affordable housing.
“The Investment Mandate is needed to get the Government’s housing funding out the door. It’s a roadmap for how all the billions of housing dollars will be spent and I want to ensure regional communities are not forgotten.”
While the Housing Australia Investment Mandate briefly mentions the housing needs of regional, rural and remote Australia, the guidelines do not explicitly require money to be spent on regional, rural and remote housing projects.
“Regional communities will continue to be overlooked unless funding tools, like the Investment Mandate, recognise our specific needs, and agencies are required to be transparent about how money is spent to meet those needs,” Dr Haines said.
“Right now, there is no guarantee that any housing funding will flow to regional Australia, and the communities where it is needed most.
“I want to work constructively with the Housing Minister to improve housing policies and funding forthe regions. But this is getting harder to do, as successive Government announcements to address the housing crisis fail to meet needs in regional, rural and remote areas.”
Dr Haines also introduced a Private Member’s Bill in parliament last month 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 and would direct the Minister to take action so that at least 30 per cent of funding is spent in regional, rural and remote Australia
Dr Haines’ subsmission regarding the Housing Australia Investment Mandate can be viewed here.