Doorstop Interview – Canberra – Wednesday 7 October 2020

SUBJECTS: Federal Budget; Social housing; HomeBuilder.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING:  Every housing organisation in the country and a hell of a lot of economists all called on the Government to put more government money into social housing in the Budget. And last night, they got zero. The Master Builders Association, the Property Council, the Housing Industry Association, all called for more government money for social housing. These aren’t organisations that are card carrying members of the Labor Party. They’re not raging socialists. These aren’t organisations that called for more money for social housing because they desperately want to end homelessness. They called for it because it would mean keeping their members in work. Building houses keeps their members working. And last night they were let down.
The housing industry is going off a cliff. All the forecasts show that the number of homes that are going to be built this year is going to be tens of thousands less than it was last year. Last year, we built 170,000 homes in Australia, this year it’s forecast to be as low as 125,000. If that’s the case, that means lots of tradies are going to lose their jobs. The Master Builders Association has called this a “bloodbath”.
I thought one of the things that would be in the Budget last night is a fix to their bungled HomeBuilder Scheme. The scheme is too small. The Prime Minister said yesterday that this crisis is 45 times as big as the GFC. But their rescue package for the housing industry is one tenth of the size of what we did for the housing industry during the GFC. The scheme is also rolling out too slowly; no one’s got any money from it yet. It’s too restrictive. For people in Sydney, it’s very hard to buy a house and land package for under $750,000. And the deadline is too short. For people who’ve lost their homes in the bushfires, they’re going to have a hell of a lot of trouble signing a contract by the end of this year.
I also thought they’d put money into social housing. For a dollar invested in building a house, you create three dollars in the economy. That’s the sort of thing that’s going to help to get Australia back and working again. They could have put money into repairing rundown social housing. This is the sort of thing you can do really quick and get tradies on the tools within weeks. So, if you’re a tradie and you’re running out of work, and you run out of work in the next few weeks and the next few months, you will know who to blame and you’ll know the night that this Government let you down. It was this Government last night. Thanks very much.