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Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Page: 5262


Senator SINGH (Tasmania) (19:47): On 4 August I was able to attend the opening of the 100th Tasmanian home delivered under the National Rental Affordability Scheme. Located in Kingston, which is about 15 minutes from the Hobart CBD, this three-bedroom property is now home to the Malano family—Paulo and Melanie and their children Mahlia and baby Eliana. Here is a family who have been given the opportunity to live in a brand-new three-bedroom home with plenty of space for their children to play in a new safe backyard. There is also room for a vegetable garden and a swing set. This is something Melanie said she never thought would be possible for her family. This illustrates the very real outcomes and benefits of Labor's National Rental Afford­ability Scheme policy.

The Gillard government understands that renting a home is a real pressure for many Australians and is making an unprecedented investment in increasing the supply of affordable housing in Australia. The National Rental Affordability Scheme began in 2008 in a bid to increase the number of affordable rental properties across the country for those who meet the criteria for low to middle incomes. This includes individuals who are looking to rent a property for the first time, singles and those working or undertaking study or training. I was pleased to be able to represent the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke, and to meet the Malano family, who have benefited so greatly from this opportunity.

The scheme works by providing incentive payments to eligible contractors who then build or find brand-new rental properties and then lease them at a rate that is at least 20 per cent below the prevailing market rental rate. -he developments range from studio apart­ments to family homes and they are being built where affordable rental accommodation is needed the most.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme has the full support of the Tasmanian Labor government, who also contribute financially. It is a wonderful example of both state and federal governments working together for the benefit of the whole community. In Tasmania alone we expect 900 brand-new rental dwellings to be delivered by June 2014. Not only is the National Rental Affordability Scheme providing homes but this scheme is also creating employment. The Mali Property Group is a Tasmanian property consortium selected by the federal and state governments to provide over 200 new properties throughout Tasmania under the scheme, from Kingston in the state's south to Burnie in the north-west. The Mali Property Group have then gone on to contract Anard Development and Anard Constructions, local Tasmanian construction and development companies, which have built many properties under this scheme for the Mali Property Group, with more work to come. The Mali Property Group not only oversee the building of new properties that they commission but also arrange to lease new properties from private owners, providing between five and 10 years of rental security for private investors. Importantly, these properties also incorporate sustainable building design to maximise energy efficiencies and provide a comfortable environment with reduced running and infrastructure costs, which is something that I bore witness to when I visited the Malano family's new home.

The government continues to be strongly committed to supporting up to 50,000 incentives through this scheme. To date more than 4,000 dwellings have been delivered. We expect to see 35,000 dwellings by 30 June 2014, with the remaining incentives to be delivered between 2015 and 2016. Announcements about round four of the scheme are expected to be made shortly. Successful contractors will receive their letters of offer from the federal Labor government.

In addition to the National Rental Affordability Scheme there are a range of affordable housing options that the Gillard Labor government is providing to improve the lives of and give housing security to many Australians across the country. For example, there is the $450 million Housing Affordability Fund, which reduces housing related infrastructure and planning costs and passes savings on to new home purchasers. The Housing Affordability Fund helps to reduce the cost of new homes for home buyers and addresses two significant barriers to increasing the supply of affordable housing, including the holding costs incurred by developers as a result of long planning and approval times, and infrastructure costs, such as the laying of water pipes and sewerage, transport and the creation of parks. To date 75 projects have been approved for funding, which will stimulate the supply of new housing and will support more affordable housing. On top of that the $100 million Building Better Regional Cities program will build thousands of more affordable homes in high-growth regional cities over the next three years by supporting local councils in investing in local housing infrastructure programs.

The National Rental Affordability Scheme is providing an opportunity for Tasmanians and Australians to have a decent quality of life through balancing affordable rent with all the other costs that families and individuals face. I am proud to be part of a Labor government that is introducing such significant social policies that are not only helping to create a sustainable Australia but also a nation of sustainable communities where people wish to work and live in affordable housing. The National Rental Affordability Scheme is a good example of how this government is helping to change people's lives.