April 12, 2022

Haines outlines infrastructure plan to tackle housing crisis in Indi

A new fund would deliver $2 billion into critical infrastructure projects to unlock new housing supply in regional Australia, under a plan announced today by Helen Haines, Independent Federal Member for Indi.

“It’s plain as day that Indi is facing a massive housing crisis right now. I’ve lived here 35 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“In the last two years, prices are up 33% in Wodonga, 34% in Wangaratta, and 25% in Benalla. In some of the smaller towns it’s even worse. In Euroa it’s 40%. In Bright, it’s 55%. This is just out of control.

“I met one person who applied for 170 rentals in Wodonga before she found a place.”

Unlocking more housing supply in regional Victoria is being held back by constraints on infrastructure such as water, sewerage, roads, and electricity infrastructure.

“Cost of living is a major issue in Indi at this election and housing is a huge part of that. We need to unlock supply and my plan would help increase the number of blocks available.

“With people flocking to our region, we need to build more houses. Simple as that. Otherwise, prices will just go up further. Both major parties have announced policies that will increase demand for existing houses, but they’ll do nothing to increase supply. That’s where my plan comes in.”

Haines is proposing the establishment of a new $2 billion Regional Housing Infrastructure Fund that would provide direct funding to regional councils to build essential infrastructure that will enable more housing to be built in their towns.

“Right now, Wangaratta can’t build any more houses because the main sewer line is at capacity. But it’ll cost hundreds of millions to upgrade that infrastructure. That’s money a regional council doesn’t just have lying around. My fund would provide that direct funding, so councils and utility companies like in Wangaratta can make the approvals for housing we desperately need.”

“Benalla has a similar problem. It needs $10 million worth of drainage works done in the west and northwest of the town, otherwise you just can’t build more homes there. While the major parties are silent on these issues, this is the exact type of thing my fund would invest in. So families in Benalla can find affordable houses with the infrastructure they need.”

“My proposal puts money on the table so we can get on and build the roads, streetlights, electricity poles, community centres, gardens, sewerage systems, and childcare centres to open new areas as soon as possible.”

Dr Haines said the Government’s existing National Housing Infrastructure Facility, a $1 billion fund designed to invest in housing-enabling infrastructure, had failed to deliver.

“This fund has been around for almost five years, it’s only spent a fraction of the money, the Minister decides from Canberra what it can be spent on, and it’s done absolutely nothing to fix the infrastructure gaps here in Indi. It’s only added 800 houses a year, across all of Australia. The fund is a dud, we need a new plan.”

Dr Haines said her proposed fund is designed to provide quick funding where it is needed.

“Where the Government’s fund is clunky and slow, my proposal is streamlined and efficient. It would operate on grants-system only with robust selection criteria. All money delivered on a competitive basis. $500 million would land on the ground every year for the next four years.”

Haines said her proposal would also give regional councils greater freedom on how they can invest.

“Right now, if a council wanted to build a childcare centre, or a library, or a public square, in order to meet population growth, the Government’s fund would turn them away. I think our local communities know best what we need to keep our towns growing.”

“We all know how great it is to live out here in the regions, that’s why we stay. The last thing I want are our young families moving out of the electorate or not living their Australian Dream because the government can’t get its act together and build more communities.”

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