Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has rejected claims his government’s flagship social housing policy was denying accommodation for thousands of Australians as he hit back at the Greens for blocking developments across the country.
Labor took a slate of housing policies to the election in a bid to bolster public accommodation for vulnerable families.
The platform is a key priority for the Prime Minister who has often spoken of his own experience living in social housing.
But newly elected Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather asked Mr Albanese if the government’s plan to establish 4,000 new dwellings a year for five years would see the “waitlist grow” and deny thousands of families the “same chance”.
“I indeed do understand the importance of having a secure roof over your head, and what that can do for the opportunity to advance in life. I know it because I have lived it,” Mr Albanese said.
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“I know that the member’s political party has substantial representation in local government and what I’d encourage him to do is to actually encourage the Greens political party to back affordable housing rather than just oppose it.
“Because in my local area, when there’s been programs in Marrickville, they have been opposed.”
Demand for public housing is significantly outstripping supply with the waiting list increasing by more than 8,000 households in 2021 while less than 4,000 new dwellings came online in the same period.
The waiting list currently sits at 163,508, according to new data published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
The Albanese Government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund will build up to 30,000 new properties for vulnerable Australians over the next five years.
Up to 10,000 of those dwellings will be provided to frontline workers, with the remaining 20,000 to be allocated for vulnerable families.
Mr Chandler-Mather said the waitlist would continue to grow if only 4,000 houses were made available a year when the list has grown by an average of 7,662 a year since 2018.
The Prime Minister said the Commonwealth was committed to the issue and would continue to work with state and local governments to bolster the supply of social housing.
“We also established a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council that will work with state and local government importantly to deliver increased housing, be it social housing or affordable housing, particularly through community housing organisations,” he said.
The government has also pledged $200 million for maintenance of existing housing in indigenous communities, $100 million for crisis accommodation for women and children and $30 million for veterans at risk of homelessness.