Renters urge Greens to push for bigger housing fund

Renters are urging the Greens not to give into Labor’s proposed $10 billion housing fund.

“We need the Greens to refuse to compromise on this, unlike how they’ve compromised on the safeguarding (sic) mechanism,” ANU student union spokesperson Phoenix O’Neill told a rally outside Parliament House on Tuesday.

Social housing tenants, university students and unions gathered outside parliament alongside the Greens and crossbenchers to call on the government to increase their investment into housing.

The Albanese government will need the support of the Greens to pass laws to put in place its Housing Australia Future Fund.

The fund is aimed at financing the construction of 20,000 social rentals and 10,000 affordable rental homes for the first five years of the fund.

But the minor party say the fund does nothing to address the issues renters face now, such as rent increases.

“It is not good enough to say that if you’re copping a $150 rent increase next week, there’s nothing we can do,” Greens housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather said.

“We know that previously the federal government had frozen rents. There’s solutions sitting there on the table.”

Housing Minister Julie Collins says most of the levers in terms of pushing down rental prices sit with the state and territory governments.

The Queensland government announced plans to limit rent increases on Tuesday, with tenants to see rent raises once a year rather than every six months.

“What we can do as a federal government really is add to supply,” she told ABC NewsRadio on Tuesday.

Social housing tenants shared their lived experiences at the rally, saying they are consistently told to leave.

“It’s been an absolutely appalling experience to be having phone calls, emails, demanding that I relocate from a place that I have made into a home,” tenant Aine Tierney said.

“Why are the most vulnerable paying the price?”

Census data released last week showed there had been a five per cent increase in the number of Australians experiencing homelessness.

Women make up the vast majority, increasing by 10 per cent.

“Sometimes it feels, as an older woman, that you are no longer wanted,” Ms Tierney said.

“You’ve had your kids. You don’t have a partner. You’re expendable.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are also severely impacted by the housing crisis, representing one in five of all homeless people.

“First Nations people are homeless in their own country,” Indigenous independent senator Lidia Thorpe said at the rally.

“If you can’t look after the blackfellas in this country, then you will not be able to look after anybody else.”

The Greens are negotiating with the government and movement on the bill is not expected until the next sitting week, which coincides with the federal budget in May.

Mr Chandler-Mather did not comment on whether the Greens will block the bill if their demands are not met.

“We are willing to negotiate in good faith. We’ve made our offer clear,” he told reporters.


Joanna Guelas
(Australian Associated Press)


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