Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 28 June 2024

FRIDAY, 28 JUNE 2024

SUBJECTS: New funding to deliver more homes for Australia

NATALIE BARR: The Albanese Government has unveiled a bold housing announcement, injecting $1 billion to help build more than a million new homes. The funding will be divided amongst the States and the Territories, which will then be directed towards essential amenities, including sewer, energy and water.

However the building industry has warned the PM’s goal of 1.2 million new homes over the next five years is already falling behind schedule.

For more I’m joined by Education Minister Jason Clare.  Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party Sussan Ley, good morning to you.

Jason, the building industry says you are way behind. So 163,000 new homes were commenced in 2023. You need 240,000 each year to reach your target. You’re well behind. How’s this going to help?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: You’ve got to build homes, part of that is we’ve got to build the infrastructure to build more homes. That means building the sewerage connection, building the water connection, the kerb and guttering, building the roads. If you want to turn backlots into backyards you’ve got to build this infrastructure. That’s what this billion dollars is all about.

But we’ve also got legislation in the Parliament to build more rental accommodation, and I’ve got to tell you this week the Liberal Party and the Greens got into bed together to vote against that legislation. If we’re going to build more homes we also need the Liberal Party and the Greens to stop playing silly buggers in the Parliament and vote to support the legislation that’s going to help us to do it.

BARR: So let’s talk about this new plan to build the amenities, the sewers, the energy, the water, the roads, the community infrastructure. How’s that going to actually home construction? Because as I understand it the high cost of construction, building houses has gone up 40 per cent in four years, and the shortage of tradies are two of the big problems that are stopping housing being built in this country. How is this program going to help that?

CLARE: We need more tradies too, that’s why there’s funding in the Budget for 20,000 more Fee‑Free TAFE places to train more people to do this sort of work.

But as I said before, if we’re going to build more homes in these new estates you’ve also got build that essential infrastructure. You’ve got to connect the sewerage to the block, you’ve got to connect the water to the block, you’ve got to do the kerb and guttering, you’ve got to build the road where the house is going to be.

So that’s what this billion dollars is all about, making sure that we can turn places where you’ve got housing estates to build into homes for people.

BARR: Sussan, is this good enough, are you happy with this plan?

SUSSAN LEY: Nat, two years into a Labor Government, it sounds as if Jason and his people are not even out of the blocks yet. I just want to ask people at home do you feel any better when your rents are going up 14 per cent, is it easier for you to get into housing with inflation figures this week showing that inflation is 4 per cent, costs going up everywhere.

And I’ve met with people this week who are building houses. They’re on the tools, they’re signing contracts. They’re out there trying to make this happen because we’ve got wonderful businesses who care about the job they do. But they’re telling us it’s too expensive to build a home, and Labor’s costs are making it worse when it comes to energy.

Labor has brought in more migrants last year than at any time in Australia’s history. We have a housing crisis. We really have a housing crisis. And what we have to do is get back to basics. This economic failure.

BARR: And so, Sussan, why don’t you vote for their plan to build the houses like Jason said? What’s wrong with that?

LEY: Because it was bad policy, Nat. It would make the rich fund managers richer, and it would prevent more Australians getting into a rental. So we will never support that policy in the Parliament.

CLARE: No, that’s absolute rubbish. It’s absolute rubbish.

LEY: We will never support bad policy in the Parliament. This is about rich fund managers building homes, and unfortunately, they might not be affordable for Australian renters.

CLARE: It’s about building more homes for Aussies.

LEY: And the numbers ‑ Jason, the numbers are just so small compared to what we need. It’s two years in.

CLARE: It’s 160,000 homes.

LEY: And you’ve sprayed money at the State Governments, but nothing is happening.

CLARE: Sprayed money to build infrastructure. Ridiculous, Sussan. Come on.

LEY: But it’s not happening. Housing crisis, a failed economic agenda.

CLARE: Nat, this reminds me of that song from Reservoir Dogs, clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. You’ve got these fringe parties now, the Liberal Party and the Greens in bed together to stop building houses for Australians, and Australians are stuck in the middle here.

If the Liberal Party and the Greens saw commonsense we’d be able to build hundreds of thousands of more homes.

BARR: You’re right, I’m stick in the middle here. Australians are stuck in the middle. And the housing crisis, the fact that we don’t have enough houses in this country, it’s two decades in the making. It’s not two years. So I think everyone’s got a bit of blame here.

LEY: It’s got a lot worse in the last two years, Nat and it’s Labor Party policies that have done that.

BARR: Yeah, but it didn’t start two years ago.

CLARE: Australians are sick of this rancid negativity from you, Sussan.

BARR: But anyway, look, we have to go. Thank you very much for both of your say. We’ll talk to you next week.