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Housing Minister Julie Collins talks about how the federal government will address housing affordability over the next three years.

Laura Valic

Editor

When the Australian Labor Party (ALP) swept into power in May 2022, it was clear from the ALP’s election promises that housing reform would be on the agenda. With the new government’s first federal Budget, announced on 25 October, we have a clearer picture on which housing initiatives will be financially supported and how this may impact the residential building industry.

According to Housing Minister Julie Collins, this is the most significant housing reform plan in a generation. It is promising for industry that the government has moved on its commitment to improve housing supply with the announcement of a Housing Accord (of which HIA is a signatory) and a new national housing supply target of one million new homes over five years starting from 2024. 

Housing sat down with Minister Collins to discuss in more detail what she is currently working on and what she hopes to achieve during her term heading up the housing portfolio.

Housing Minister Julie Collins
'Addressing [housing affordability] requires all stakeholders to come together'

Q: How do you propose to work with the states to create solutions for housing affordability?

In July, I chaired the first Housing Ministers Meeting and the second in September. I will be working closely with my state and territory colleagues to progress important reforms in the housing sector. The National Housing Supply and Affordability Council will also bring together all levels of government and other experts to consider ways to improve affordability. In addition, the Commonwealth will work with the states and territories on the National Housing and Homelessness Plan, which will ensure cooperative, aligned efforts to improve housing outcomes. 

Q: Do you see home ownership as being important to attain for all Australians?

The Albanese Government understands home ownership is an important objective for many Australians. It’s why we have expanded the Home Guarantee Scheme to help more Australians into home ownership, and why we will introduce Help to Buy and the Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme. I understand home ownership isn’t necessarily suitable or desirable for everyone, so I’m also focused on making sure Australians can access the housing they need and where they need it to be. 

The Albanese Government wants more Australians to have a safe and affordable place to call home. Our ambitious agenda includes elements to support all Australians, whether that’s through social housing, support into home ownership or renting, as well as making sure our most vulnerable aren’t left behind. 

Safe and affordable housing is central to the security and dignity of all Australians
Over the next five years, 50,000 new social and affordable homes are to be built

Q: As the Housing Minister, what are your goals over the next few years?

Safe and affordable housing is central to the security and dignity of all Australians. I want every Australian to have the security of having a roof over their head. This means we need to build more social housing, upgrade existing housing and make sure that more Australians can afford their own home. 

The Prime Minister’s deep personal connection to this issue means Australia finally has a government in Canberra with a strong focus on safe and affordable housing, and I look forward to delivering on the commitments we have made to the Australian people. This includes a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council, a National Housing and Homelessness Plan, a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund to invest in social housing, the Help to Buy shared equity program and supporting regional home buyers through the Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme. 

Q: Is addressing housing affordability a priority for the federal government?

Housing affordability is a critical issue for Australians, and for the Albanese Government. Addressing this challenge requires all stakeholders to come together, including all levels of government, industry and the community housing sector. We are already working to develop our National Housing and Homelessness Plan, which will bring these groups together and set out concrete proposals to improve affordability, particularly for vulnerable Australians. The National Housing Supply and Affordability Council is a key part of our housing reform agenda and will examine ways to increase the supply of housing and improve affordability across the board. 

The National Housing Supply and Affordability Council has been introduced
'Safe and affordable housing is central to the security ... of all Australians'
Breakdown of the Budget 

The Housing Accord was one of the bigger announcements of the 2022 Budget pertinent to the building industry. This is an agreement between all levels of government, industry bodies (including HIA) and institutional investors to work collaboratively to achieve a stable housing supply each year. It will focus on establishing a framework to deliver up to 50,000 new social and affordable homes over the next five years as well as set an aspirational housing supply target that can steer policy decision-making related to supply.

In addition, the federal government declared it will provide $348.6 million over four years from 2022–23 for a number of further initiatives to deliver more social and affordable housing. Funding includes:

  • $324.6 million to establish the Help to Buy ‘shared equity’ scheme to assist people on low to moderate incomes to buy a home
  • $15.2 million (and $4.4 million per year ongoing) to establish a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council to develop housing supply and affordability policy through research and advice
  • $0.5 million (and $0.1 million per year ongoing) to establish Housing Australia, by renaming and expanding the remit of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, to deliver the social and affordable housing programs
  • $8.3 million to the Treasury and Housing Australia to administer the Housing Australia Future Fund.

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