Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 28 July 2023

FRIDAY, 28 JULY 2023 

SUBJECTS: Housing Australia Future Fund; Cost of living.  

NATALIE BARR: Social housing is back in the spotlight this morning, and it could spark an early Federal Election. Anthony Albanese is preparing to reintroduce a signature bill after it was blocked by the Greens and the Coalition. The legislation would create a $10 billion fund to build 30,000 affordable homes over five years.  

If that bill is knocked back a second time the Prime Minister could request a double dissolution to hold an early poll. Let’s bring in Education Minister, Jason Clare, here in the studio, and acting Opposition Leader, Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you.  


BARR: Jason, if this is rejected, could we see an early election? 

CLARE: It’s not about an election, it’s about putting a roof over people’s heads. We’ve got the Liberal Party and the Greens in bed together while there’s people sleeping on the streets. This is a fund to build thousands more homes for women and kids fleeing domestic violence, for veterans who fought in Afghanistan who are now sleeping in Martin Place, and the Liberal Party and the Greens keep voting against this. 

BARR: We know that, but the Constitution says if a bill is rejected twice in more than three months you have the ability to call a double dissolution election. Is that what’s behind this? 

CLARE: I hope they see sense. What’s behind this is building more homes. The Liberals are good at whinging about this, they whinge more than the English cricket team. But what’s wrong here is they’re opposing this bill. 

Now, this bill is exactly the same as a bill that Gladys Berejiklian put into place here in New South Wales, a fund ‑‑ 

BARR: Can you rule out a double dissolution election though? 

CLARE: What I can’t rule out is the Liberal Party and the Greens teaming up again to vote against this. 

BARR: Can you rule it out? 

CLARE: What I care about, Nat, is not whether we have an election, but whether we build homes for people who desperately need it, and you’ve got the Libs and the Greens, and the Nats all in bed together stopping this. They need to see some sense, think about the people that this will help, not the politics that really seems to occupy them at the moment. 

BARR: And we have a housing crisis, and this is on everyone’s mind. 

CLARE: Big time. 

BARR: We’ve got building companies going broke left, right and centre, but also people would care if you guys are trying to get an early election. Can you rule it out? 

CLARE: What we’re trying to do is build 30,000 more homes. 

BARR: We know that. But can you rule out an early election? 

CLARE: The way to rule this out is to pass the bill. 

BARR: Sussan, do you think that’s what is the aim here? 

SUSSAN LEY: Nat, threatening the Australian people with an early election is the height of arrogance from this Albanese Government. The policy does not stack up, and meanwhile, their economy‑wrecking approach is making it more and more expensive to build a home. We’re seeing builders going broke across the country every day because they can’t keep up with these rising prices.   

My goodness, this is not putting the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, this is putting the ambulance down the road. Now, I’ve visited homeless shelters, I’ve visited factories, I’ve visited cafés, I’m talking to people every day; people are reaching out for help that have never asked for it before, because this government doesn’t have a plan to tackle inflation, and that’s what we need now, an urgent plan to tackle inflation, not threats about an early election. What arrogance. 

BARR: Sussan, what they do say they have is a $10 billion plan to build 30,000 affordable houses, and you and the Greens are holding that up. 

LEY: Nat, the policy doesn’t stack up. It simply doesn’t. And it sounds, when Jason talks, as if all of this money will actually be translated into homes for people. That’s not the case. 

CLARE: That’s rubbish. 

LEY: It’s just a fund ‑‑ 

CLARE: That’s just absolute rubbish, Sussan. 

LEY: It’s just a fund which has the interest which would become a new house perhaps. 

CLARE: No, this is rubbish. 

LEY: So this is woefully inadequate ‑‑ 

CLARE: You’re lying to the Australian people. 

LEY: ‑‑ to address the crisis, woefully inadequate to address the crisis, woefully inadequate to address the crisis. It’s a policy that doesn’t stack up. And just listen to Jason not actually admit that this is about threatening the Australian people with an early double-dissolution election. 

CLARE: Just rubbish. 

LEY: What arrogance, when people are struggling. 

CLARE: It’s lies, Sussan. 

LEY: What awful arrogance. 

CLARE: You’re lying to the Australian people. 

LEY: Jason, I don’t appreciate ‑‑ 

CLARE: This is not about an election. 

LEY: ‑‑ I don’t appreciate the interruptions. 

CLARE: And this is a fund that was set up ‑‑ 

LEY: I don’t appreciate the interruptions. 

CLARE: ‑‑ by Gladys Berejiklian in New South Wales. 

LEY: I don’t appreciate the interruptions. 

CLARE: And now you’re saying that what you set up in New South Wales ‑‑ 

LEY: It’s your policy, it’s your policy ‑‑ 

CLARE: ‑‑ won’t work here. 

LEY: ‑‑ and it doesn’t stack up. 

CLARE: You know, just more hypocrisy ‑‑ 

LEY: And that’s why the entire Parliament has rejected it. 

CLARE: More hypocrisy, you talk about ‑‑ 

LEY: Why has it been rejected, Jason? 

CLARE: Sussan talks about an ambulance ‑‑ 

LEY: The Parliament ‑‑ 

CLARE: At the bottom of a cliff – the Liberal Party are acting like one of those cars that won’t get out of the way when the ambulance siren is blaring, and there’s the Liberal Party just puttering along ‑‑ 

LEY: Focus on the cost‑of‑living crisis. 

CLARE: ‑‑ stopping the Australian Parliament from ‑‑ 

LEY: Focus on the people who are hurting. 

CLARE: ‑‑ from passing laws and building housing ‑‑ 

LEY: I’ve seen them every day. 

CLARE: ‑‑ for people that are fleeing domestic violence ‑‑ 

LEY: Focus on ordinary Australians. 

BARR: Okay. 

CLARE: ‑‑ as well as frontline workers like teachers and nurses, and there’s the Liberal Party just playing more politics. 

BARR: So, Jason, what happens when it’s reintroduced, if it’s rejected again, then what happens? 

CLARE: Well, it will be reintroduced. I hope it passes. Whether it’s the Greens ‑‑ 

BARR: I mean, look at the attitude, you know it’s not going to. So then what? Is that the idea? 

CLARE: The Liberal Party have never cared about building housing for people ‑‑ 

LEY: That’s outrageous. 

CLARE: ‑‑ who sleep on the streets. 

LEY: That’s an outrageous thing to say, Jason.  

CLARE: So, I don’t expect the Liberal Party to change their mind here, and you can see from Sussan, that she’s continuing ‑‑ 

LEY: What we have is people ‑‑ 

CLARE: ‑‑ to play politics on this. 

LEY: People in government don’t care. 

CLARE: I hope the Greens ‑‑ 

LEY: People in your government don’t care. 

CLARE: I hope the Greens will finally see sense, and instead of trying to play politics and win votes, will actually help us to build housing for people who need it. 

BARR: And if they don’t? 

LEY: The policy doesn’t stack up, Jason. 

CLARE: We will keep going, trying to make sure that we can put in place policies to build housing for people that need it. 

BARR: Okay. We thank you both, we think you’ve both had your say.