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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 1947

Housing Affordability


Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (14:51): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, Minister Ryan. Dwelling prices in Australia rose 10 per cent in 2015-16. This year Sydney recorded the largest number of homeless people since the street count began and Melbourne has recorded a 74 per cent increase since 2014. There are many solutions at the federal level, but the Treasurer has seemingly passed the buck to the states. What can the federal government do to directly address housing affordability, rental security and reducing homelessness that does not pass the buck to the states?


Senator RYAN (VictoriaSpecial Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Cabinet Secretary) (14:52): I will honestly concede this is probably not the question I expected from Senator Rhiannon this afternoon. I will take some of the factual details on notice, Senator Rhiannon, but I understand that there are a number of measures the government takes on board. The National Rental Affordability Scheme is one of the measures the government has used to deal with these matters. I will ask for your understanding, Senator Rhiannon, and take further matters on notice for today and come back to you as soon as possible.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Rhiannon, a supplementary question.



Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (14:53): Minister, I appreciate the situation that you are in, but you are a minister and surely you have ideas about the future of Australia considering the crisis that we are facing with housing. So many young people are facing a situation where—

Government senators: What's your question!

Senator RHIANNON: they are going to be in a worse position than their parents, which, as far as we know, has not occurred before. Given the long-running housing crisis—

Government senators: Time! Time!

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Rhiannon, your time has expired. I will invite the minister to make any remarks he wishes to in light of your comments, as you did not reach the question.




Senator RYAN (VictoriaSpecial Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Cabinet Secretary) (14:54): Housing affordability is something that this government and this side of politics have always been strongly committed to. In fact, the particular ability for people to afford their own homes has always been something that the coalition government has been completely committed to. The government has a number of programs in place, and has continued some over many years, to ensure that those who cannot afford to purchase a home are able to find secure accommodation.

I will turn to home affordability, Senator Rhiannon, and I will refer you to the Treasurer's speech of just over a week ago that highlighted a number of issues about this, including the fact that we are a growing country. It is something I am proud of, but, as the Treasurer highlighted, there are a number of issues across jurisdictions, including the issue of land release and the issue of state taxes, that directly impact on housing affordability, on the cost of ownership and on rental housing.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Rhiannon, a final supplementary question.



Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (14:55): Minister, you speak about government commitment, but doesn't the lack of a housing minister and the Treasurer's refusal to offer even one solution that the federal government can implement show the government is out of touch with the concerns of everyday people, particularly young people, and lacks the courage to seriously address problems in this country? Isn't this buck passing? Your solution is to pass it over to the states—isn't that correct?


Senator RYAN (VictoriaSpecial Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Cabinet Secretary) (14:55): I do not see housing listed as a direct Commonwealth responsibility. Like so many other matters, it is a joint area of activity for the Commonwealth and the states. Given my own experience in the city of Melbourne, if the Greens were not imposing limits on land release and constant hikes in taxes on developers that actually force up the price of housing at the state level and at the local level, then this would be something that would not be as difficult as it is. Senator Rhiannon: just because there is an issue it does not make it a Commonwealth responsibility or give the Commonwealth power to directly and solely address it, despite your wish. Be accountable for what your representatives do at state and local government levels that directly impact on the cost of land release, the development of new housing and the price that people pay to rent or own their own home.