6 March 2023

Opinion piece: Housing affordability brick by brick


Published in The Canberra Times

When people think of Canberra, the house that usually comes to mind is Parliament House.

But having spent time travelling to the nation's capital, I know that Canberra ‑ like any other community around our country ‑ has its own housing affordability issues. Finding a place to call home, whether you're renting or trying to buy, is hard.

Finding somewhere affordable in the city known for the country's highest median wage is even harder. And, like many places across Australia, there is a long waiting list for public housing.

That's why we went to the election with an ambitious housing plan. The Albanese government wants to make sure more people have a safe and affordable place to call home, here in Canberra and right around Australia.

A key part of our plan is the Housing Australia Future Fund, the single biggest investment in affordable and social housing in more than a decade. In its first five years, returns from the fund will help deliver 30,000 new social and affordable homes, including 4,000 homes for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence or older women at risk of homelessness.

Once established, returns from this $10 billion fund will provide an ongoing source of funding for social and affordable housing. I'm looking forward to further constructive conversations with people across the Parliament as we work towards ensuring this vital fund becomes a reality.

This $10 billion fund is one piece of a larger housing agenda ‑ we've already acted immediately to put other elements of our plan in place.

We've unlocked up to $575 million to invest in social and affordable housing, by widening the remit of the National Housing Infrastructure Facility. Earlier this year, I unveiled our government's first project to be funded from this change, which will see the construction of more than 130 new apartments in Adelaide. I'm looking forward to making more of these announcements and getting homes on the ground right across the country.

The Albanese government also knows the importance of getting the right policies in place, and that's why we're creating a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council. Drawing on evidence and data from right across the housing sector, the Council will provide frank and fearless advice to the government on housing supply and affordability. Our interim Council has already held its first meeting.

I've met with ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry as part of meetings with my state and territory counterparts. The Albanese government is committed to providing new national leadership on housing, and I look forward to hosting our fourth meeting of housing ministers soon.

We're also providing national leadership through our new National Housing Accord, a shared ambition to build one million new well‑located homes over five years from 2024. The Albanese government has already allocated $350 million in additional federal funding to deliver 10,000 affordable homes over five years from 2024 as part of the Accord. We have a lot of work to do, and we cannot do it alone.

We need federal politicians from all parties to work together to help those Australians struggling with housing affordability. We need to work alongside the states and territories, local government, and industry. We need the expertise from those on the frontline to help inform our policies and shape them into a lifeline for people in need.

The challenges we face, here in Canberra and right across the country, are significant. But we have a plan, and we won't waste a day.