The Greens have abstained from a key vote on the government’s $10 billion centrepiece affordable housing policy, demanding a $4.5 billion increase to a key part of the legislation before they will sign on.
Angry that the government attempted to ram through the legislation while the minor party was still negotiating with Labor, they said they wanted more from the package than what was offered.
The Greens want the $500 million cap for investment in social and affordable housing increased to $5 billion a year; and an immediate doubling of Commonwealth rent assessment and a mandated rent freeze.
Under the constitution, the commonwealth is unable to interfere in the rental market.
Housing Minister Julie Collins’ three Bills passed the house between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, which would establish the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, as well as set up the housing supply and affordability council.
The Greens abstained from the vote on Wednesday night which focused specifically on the fund, while Liberal Bridget Archer crossed the floor to support the government.
With the Coalition firmly opposed to the bill, the government is under pressure to strike a deal with the Greens to wave it through the senate.
Labor does not have the numbers in the upper house and without the support of the Greens and two other crossbenchers, the bill cannot pass.
According to the Greens and Labor, negotiations are ongoing.
Ms Collins said on Thursday the legislation was “desperately needed” and reiterated her disappointment in the minor party for not supporting the legislation.
“This is a turning point for housing in our country, but it has sadly been blighted by those who voted no to more social and affordable housing,” she said.
“This is vital investment in the future of housing in our country. We know it is desperately needed, and we will continue to work hard to deliver it.”
Meanwhile, Greens housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather said the policy did not go far enough. He said it risked making the current crisis worse.
“We want the government to come to the table and actually negotiate in good faith and recognise that at the last federal election their vote went backwards and the Green vote increased,” he said.
“There are millions of renters and low-income households out there who voted for the Greens and expect us to stand up for them and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Mr Chandler-Mather also hit out at Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for his “spectacular ignorance of the housing situation at the moment”.
“If he wants to wax lyrical about growing up in public housing, then he should have to explain to the 640,000 people with disabilities what they’re going to do,” he said.
“Where are they going to go? … The government rammed through (the Bills) without addressing a single one of our concerns.”
Story Credit: news.com.au