17 August 2023

Haines welcomes Housing Support Program but says regions must receive fair share

Helen Haines, Independent Federal Member for Indi, has welcomed the commitment by the Federal Government to fund critical enabling infrastructure to boost housing supply, but has called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to guarantee regional Australia receive a fair share of the investment.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced additional funding to address Australia’s affordable housing supply crisis following National Cabinet on Wednesday, including a $500 million funding program for local and state governments to invest in the critical infrastructure that enables housing development to get started.

The new Housing Support Program will offer ‘targeted activation payments’ for the connection of essential services and amenities needed to support new housing developments, such as sewerage, water and power.

Dr Haines met with Mr Albanese just last week to make the case for the spending, which is needed to boost housing supply across regional Australia, including North East Victoria.

“I spoke to the Prime Minister just last week about the housing issues we face in regional Australia, and how the problems and solutions are different than those in the cities. He listened and acknowledged the work I have done on this issue,” Dr Haines said.

“Now the Government must ensure this funding goes to regional and rural Australia, where these funds are needed the most. I will work constructively with the government to ensure we receive our fair share of the funding in the regions, and I am committed to holding this Government accountable on behalf of our community in Indi and regional Australia more broadly.

“I will look closely at the detail of the Housing Support Program when it becomes available and I will push the government to ensure it works for us in Indi and across rural areas like ours,” Dr Haines said.

Dr Haines has long called for federal investment in this type of critical enabling infrastructure to unlock rural and regional housing projects.

Last week Dr Haines presented the Prime Minister with her proposal for a dedicated Regional Housing Infrastructure Fund that would invest in critical enabling infrastructure for regional housing developments.

“This is why it is so important to have a strong regional Independent voice in Parliament. I have listened to my community in Indi about the problems we face, worked with them to develop those solutions and bring them to Government. It’s clear the Government has listened and now I will make sure this announcement is actually delivered and results in more houses built in our towns.”

Such a fund could unlock social and affordable housing projects such as the Ovens College redevelopment in Wangaratta where not-for-profit social enterprise and housing developer Nestd, has been contracted to deliver 200 safe, quality, energy-efficient homes for young people, pensioners, women at risk of homelessness and essential workers.

“I have spoken to not-for-profit housing providers who say they face costs to developing housing in regional Australia that they wouldn’t face in the big cities, that’s why we need this funding to kickstart other investment.

“There is no silver bullet to solve the housing crisis. But funding for critical enabling infrastructure is a major handbrake on housing supply right now, and this funding program could go a long way to addressing the problem.”


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