Access to safe and affordable housing is a human right and access should not be dictated by whether you live in the regions or the big cities.

Tonight, many people in my electorate of Indi will be going to sleep without a roof over their head and even more will be sleeping on a couch or in their car.

I know that the stories I hear from my constituents are reverberated across all of Australia. I’ve met young families who are still living with their elderly parents, essential workers who cannot afford to live in the towns where their expertise is most needed. And I’ve heard from older people, particularly women, who simply cannot afford rising rents.

I have long said that there is no silver bullet to the housing crisis.

And I broadly support measures this Government has already taken to get on with building more homes.

We have the $10 billion Housing Australia future Fund and just days after I met with the Prime Minister to discuss enabling infrastructure, he announced the $500 million Housing Support program to fund exactly this.

But they need to do more to help the housing crisis in regional areas.

As a regional Independent Member of Parliament, I have been calling on the Government for some time now to dedicate housing funding to regional, rural and remote Australia.

This includes funding for enabling infrastructure – sewerage, water, power poles or footpaths. Without, this towns in my electorate of Indi simply cannot accommodate more houses.

My Unlocking Regional Housing Bill, which I introduced in September, seeks to guarantee dedicated funding for critical enabling infrastructure in rural, regional and remote Australia.

The people of Indi elected me to be their champion. To fight for them. That’s what I’m doing.

Today, I am raising the voices of more than 2,000 regional Australians who have added their name to this petition calling on the Prime Minister to back my Bill.

Shortly after this speech, I will be taking their names and demands directly to the Minister for Housing.

Without my Bill – without dedicated funding for regional and rural housing – this nation has no guaranteed path forward to ensure rural, regional and remote Australia gets our fair share of housing. That is totally unacceptable.

To the Government, I say I’ve done the work for you. There is a Bill before this House ready for debate. I’m ready to work with you on behalf of the seven million regional, rural and remote Australians who are crying out for this Parliament to help them in the worst housing crisis they have seen for decades.

Let’s get this done.

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