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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Much ado about housing

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was back on the international stage this weekend, on the sidelines of the G7 in Hiroshima, but a housing minefield awaits him at home, with the government finding few friends for its proposed Housing Australia Future Fund.

Labor went to the election promising to do something serious about housing and homelessness, but is the HAFF the answer? The fiercest critic so far has been parliamentary newcomer Max Chandler-Mather, a young Greens representative from Queensland who was once a member of Labor.

As Mr Chandler-Mather explains, the HAFF ‘is not actually a thing that builds any houses, in fact it’s a lot of really complicated bank accounts.’

He’s got a point, considering the fundamental idea of the HAFF is to use $10 billion of public money and gamble it on the stock market, with the assistance of some very well-paid managers. The intention is that some of the (possible) earnings could go towards subsidies for homes at some time in the future, but it’s not clear when a single home will actually be built under the scheme.

Fighting words

Speaking in parliament, Max Chandler-Mather didn’t hold back: ‘What sort of government can’t guarantee a single cent for public and affordable housing, but can guarantee $254 billion for everyone in this place to get $9,000 a year extra from tax?

Greens member for Griffith, Max Chandler-Mather. Wikipedia CC.

‘They can guarantee $41 billion for fossil fuel subsidies. They can guarantee $16 billion in tax concessions for property investors, but they can’t guarantee a cent for public and affordable housing in the middle of the worst housing crisis,’ he said.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong savaged Mr Chandler-Mather, accusing him of ‘prioritising media attention from stunts, and obstruction, over housing for women and kids fleeing domestic violence. How shameful.’

And so it continued, with Labor refusing to address the substance of Mr Chandler-Mather’s remarks. In response, he said they were ‘trying to crush the hope’ of Australians hoping for a genuine housing solution.

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie piled on in support of the government, saying ‘We can’t hold this back. I know this is not perfect. But people out there need a roof over their heads.’

In the end, the Greens voted with the Liberals and Nationals to stop Labor’s attempts to rush a vote on the HAFF through, which means negotiations will have to continue, along with the emotional words and accusations from all sides.

The debate will return to the upper house in June.

Stable housing has become a pipe dream for many Australians. Cloudcatcher Media with Midjourney AI.

Echoes

For Labor, the whole thing has echoes of the unlikely alliance that torpedoed Kevin Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2009, still a rancorous source of division between Labor and Green supporters across Australia.

Once more, the Greens are being portrayed as perfectionists who live in an unreal world, and Labor are being portrayed as sellouts to the principles they claim as foundations.

Meanwhile a genuine solution to the problem on the scale needed is delayed by the fact that this would likely decrease the commercial value of property across the country. This is an outcome that no one except those facing homelessness and skyrocketing rents want – least of all the banks and property developers who have the ear of all levels of government.


David Lowe
David Lowe. Photo Tree Faerie

Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and politics. He’s known for his campaigning work with Cloudcatcher Media.

Long ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum.


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36 COMMENTS

  1. Like it or dislike it David .. fossil fuels = welfare
    Hospitals/ roads / nurses/ Dr’s teachers etc..
    Reality check ✔️ renewables Zero ?

    • Barrow you missed the reality that is the climate emergency caused by the continued burning of fossil fuel.
      A fact that the current ALP mob are lost on as well, with their continued approvals of new coal and gas adventures.
      What part of National Bushfire Apocalypse 2019 -20 , Lismore Record Flood Destruction 2022, Record floods 2023 also, in the Kimberley and Burketown and then we had Cyclone Ilsa 2023 – record Australian wind speed.

      Fossil Fuels need to go out with replacing by Renewables.
      Your $’sfossils industry will be replaced by $’srenewables industries such as with Australian Green Hydrogen that countries such as Germany and South Korea are now partnering with us to get ‘Green Hydrogen’ from us.

      Barrow, reality check indeed, fossils Z E R O and quick!

      • “ Your $’sfossils industry will be replaced by $’srenewables industries such as with Australian Green Hydrogen that countries such as Germany and South Korea are now partnering with us to get ‘Green Hydrogen’ from us”

        How is this going to happen when we have a Labor government. Are you anticipating a Green government in the near future or that the LNP will have a road to Damascus conversion?

        • Lizardbreath, indeed it is the Green movement getting ‘Green Hydrogen’ going.

          One of the few good things in the Albo and Jimbo Budget was the $’s2billions Hydrogen Headstart initiative in recognition that around the world the ‘Green Hydrogen’ is a big part of the coming global green / renewables economy.
          Here in Australia, the likes of Andrew Forrest and Sanjeev Gupta can respectively see what it means for their iron ore and steel.
          South, Korea, Germany, India can see what it means, they lining up to partner with Australia for Aussie Green Hydrogen.

          That the ALP is still approving new coalmines and gaswells just speaks to the rubbish and shear stupidity of their actions.
          They wasting precious time and money on the fossil economy that is going to end but new fossils projects still being supported that is cruelling the climate, resulting in the extreme climate disasters that we experiencing and then spending $’sbillions in the aftermath cleanups…..its dumbass.

          • What! They did a good thing in the budget? We’ll knock me down with a feather.😱But fear not, because it’s described generically as a green initiative it was all The Greens Party idea.

            The budget actually allocated a new $2 billion hydrogen fund designed to support new renewable hydrogen projects as part of a $4 billion + package which included a wide range of initiates including such bread and butter stuff as upgrading the grid.

            My source is Renew Economy which adds:

            “ The other big ticket items in the federal budget are a $1.6 billion energy savings plan designed to address Australia’s woefully inefficient housing stock, which leads to higher heating and cooling bills.

            “The fund will support energy upgrades, including double glazing, to try and boost Australia’s global ranking on energy use per capita – it is currently rated 58th out of 63 countries. Lifting an average house from a 1-star rating to a 3-star rating can cut household energy bills by 30 per cent.

            “Of this money, $1 billion will be distributed by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to support lower cost lending for “battery-ready solar PV, modern appliances and other improvements”. More than 110,000 homes are targeted.

            “ A further $300 million will support upgrades to social housing, targeting another 60,000 properties. Another $310 million in tax relief will be provided to small businesses to help them electrify and become more efficient in terms of energy use.”

            and

            “ Among other measures, some $38.2 million is allocated for a Guarantee of Origin scheme that will certify renewable energy and track and verify emissions from clean energy products – in particular hydrogen.

            “Another $83 million has been allocated to the new Net Zero Transition Authority that was announced late last week.

            “ Another $5.6 million is allocated for further work before the end of 2023 on the best ways to leverage Australia’s competitive strengths in renewable energy, critical minerals and highly skilled workforce to accelerate our other clean industrial and manufacturing capabilities.”

            All designed by the Greens Party no doubt.

          • Lizardbreath, please do catchup.

            The ‘Electrification Package’ – the $’s1.6billions in total – only came about because of.. The G r e e n s!
            The ALP always slow or too lazy to do policy work so The G r e e n s have to help them out – That Climate Change Bill ( that 43% emissions reduction thing ) 2022 that got passed, happened as a result of PM Albanese agreeing with Leader Bandt to include in the 2023 Federal Budget a package of energy measures that they / their respective parties would work on to be delivered as the ‘Electrification Package’ in the Budget. The ‘Electrification Package’ would not have happened were it not for the the Greens. I know, “Its all the Greens fault”, a g a i n.

            The ALP always slow or too lazy to do policy work. The “new Net Zero Transition Authority”, I have written about this before. In short the ALP has long had Zero interest in any Transition Authority, most recently 27/9/22 the ALP smacked down the Greens with their National Energy Transition Authority ( NETA ) Bill in the Senate. Then by some miracle the ALP 5/5/23 announces…Net Zero Transition Authority. I know, “Its all the Greens fault”, a g a i n .

            The ALP always too slow or too lazy to do policy work. The embrace of Green Hydrogen, The $’s2billions Hydrogen Headstart budget announcement. Wonderful news, the ALP getting it, after not having a specific hydrogen strategy at the 2022 Federal Election. But the Greens, always there doing the heavy lifting, happy to be helping out the ALP, have had their Green Hydrogen Australia for the ALP to come along and pick up and then announce…’Hydrogen Headstart’. I know, ‘Its all the Greens fault”, a g as i n .

            Lizardbreath, yes, you spot on again, “All designed by the Greens”.

          • I merely pointed out that there were more climate initiatives than the 2 bil green hydrogen initiative you grudgingly conceded despite nearly every post being about their total rejection of a transition strategy.

            Maybe Joachim, if Labor is so good at learning from the Greens, you might be pushing for a little more camaraderie or cooperation between the two. No?

            Do you think the oldest political party in Australia is not alert to political games and doesn’t allow for some negotiation room in their original position? Maybe I’m being cynical though.

  2. Yeah more findings our BOM has surpressed
    Planet Joachim.. fewer cyclone’s .. uh you
    Wont hear that on the ABC or Cosmos…
    Look it up yourself Joachim..so Joachim you can confirm that 100 renewable energies will
    See us through? Who os going to pay for the
    Various forms of welfare ? Your welcome !

    • Barrow, Barrow, Barrow, our BoM, after all this time you suddenly interested…oh wait, it ain’t a genuine interest in science.
      Barrow you don’t bother looking into the BoM State of the Climate Reports, instead you wet yourself with excitement every opportunity you can scribble away with regurged lines from The Daily Murdoch and Sky stuck in the Dark TV.

      Barrow old son, industries rise and fall, it been explained to you before.

  3. David
    You hit the truth nail on its head with your last paragraph. ….
    And so it was that the myth of “the government for the people ” is exposed, the man who grew up in social housing and became prime minister doesn’t care enough about homeless single Mums.. what becomes of the corrupted heart, swimming faux moral victory laps in the pool of other people’s tears.

    • If the price of goods drop without a corresponding reduction in the amount of currency in the system, expect a giant leap in inflation.

    • Mr Sujay, are you really that far out of touch, or you just trying to mislead; who is desperately trying to get a 10 billion affordable housing bill through the Senate, that the grandstanding Greens are stopping, probably only because it’s not their idea, and a host of other housing measures handed down in Jim Charmers budget, you really need to be more attentive.

      • Lizardbreath, I have written a bit in a previous page in, “She’s Back, Mandy Nolan….”
        And you can catchup via ABC Iview last Monday nights QandA show.
        Australia’s Housing Policy and the gigantic fail that it is. And yes, the HAFF exposed as ALP huff.

        • And I replied to you there too.

          Yeah I saw Monday’s usual debacle that Q+A has become . But funny – all I saw the very articulate and knowledgeable Ananda Raja shouted down by the moderator and without any attempt at order by an audience member. All for of a free rein to the grandstanding of Max Chandler-Mather

          I think I’ve explained why I’m not impressed with the shallow analysis of the populist rhetoric of MCH.

          The audience clearly loved it but an intelligent, orderly and informative discussion it was not. As I’ve said Joachim I political issues of huge significance to people’s well being should not be treated like a state of origin match or a slogan competition.

          • Lizardbretah, you may have watched QandA but you couldn’t have listened all that closely.
            Max Chandler-Mather was well across the subject of the housing crisis but you seemingly dismissive, just because he from the Greens. Where was he wrong in what he said?
            “Origin match”, the audience engaged and emotions on display on the housing subject, no wonder is it, when Housing Policy is an ongoing national failure that both Lab and LibNat can share the credit for.
            But best not listen to a direct way of doing Housing Policy, like with Greens / Max Chandler-Mather, lets stick with the tried and tested ‘success’ that is $’sbillions pa Negative Gearing and Capital Gains Tax Concession ( that most of the pollies are also happily suckling on! ) paid out to investors or dreaming up a Future Fund thing / HAFF that doesn’t do the job either.

          • Lizardbreath an addon.
            Dr Michelle Ananda Rajah ( or her ALP adviser/s ) needs to do better when trying to take down Max Chandler-Mather on the proposed housing development upon the former ‘Bulimba Barracks’ in Max Chandler-Mather’s electorate.
            Perhaps she got one of those ALP HQ talking point sheets just before coming on the show.
            Someone messed up badly, left Dr Michelle to look rather foolish.
            For Dr Michelle, by all means have the debate of the issue but at least be fully across the detail, scoring an own goal on national TV is not the best look.

        • Keith, don’t bother yourself with information, like catching up on the QandA show.
          No siree, keep it safe, stay in your ALP silo cocoon, protect yourself from the dastardly Greens.
          Lol.

    • Joachim, Is it “just pretend ALP huff” that actually gets passed into law that actually helps people, or is it just pretend Greens huff that never goes anywhere and never helps anyone?, seriously you Greens are so full of yourselves, talk about wasted space.

      • Keith, we have a Housing Crisis.
        People need help with housing, Now. Not, whenever; Not, sometime after 2025 and depending upon making a ‘return’ from the stock market.

        Keith, that $’s10billions, it makes Zero sense to not directly invest into housing now, “that actually helps people”, Now. Its just cruel not to be doing so.

        • Seriously Joachim, what a predictable stupid statement coming from a predictably stupid Greens party, we know there is a housing crisis, that’s why Labor is trying to pass it’s 10 billion affordable housing future fund in the Senate- where your predictably stupid grandstanding is blocking it- along with the two billion of new funding that Labor has handed down in the budget to help address the very same issue that you clowns are now trying to play politics with, you pathetic mob should be ashamed of yourselves.

          • Keith, affordable housing building, Now.
            Not whenever, Not maybe sometime after 2025.
            This truly shows how much your heartless mob cares about people in housing distress right now.
            Keep them waiting, waiting, waiting until…whenever.

            Shame, Labor, Shame.

  4. David, are you serious about Labor having “few friends” over its Housing Australia Future Fund, that the grandstanding Greens are blocking in the Senate? It will probably never be enough, but in a tight budget it’s a good start, The only friends the Greens have in the Senate is the Coalition, and One Nation, (the Greens always suck up to them when it’s politically expedient, they have no shame), the rest of the cross-bench are more than willing to pass the bill. And just what do you not understand about ” Labor took the policy to an election and won, and has a mandate to implement it”. With the amount of whinging you are doing about the Albanese Govt, one could conclude that you are missing the Morrison Govt, seriously?

    • Keith, ALP didn’t win The Senate but that’s an irrelevant reality, yeah.

      We don’t live in an autocracy, much as that might appeal to you at the moment.
      You not liking the system of government – legislation being passed by HoR and the Senate ( house of review ), well that’ such a shame then, for you. Maybe ask PM Albanese for a referendum, ‘The Senate will be null and void whenever the ALP wins an election’.

      On your logic, when the LNP wins government then all their legislation must also pass the Senate without reviewing.
      But then logic hasn’t been your strong suit.

      • Quite true, that is our system of government – a fairly strange one in the upper house, where they generally only face an election every six years and each state, in a hangover of paranoia from federation, gets the same number of senators regardless of population. The above the line and proportional (not preferential) system, which very few really understand, is prone to strange manipulations by preference deals.

        All this means that decision-makers in the upper house must justify and be held as accountable as the lower house. They need to have VERY sound reasons for rejecting the policies a more democratically elected government took to the election.

        The discussion on qanda was, as usual, more a circus than any useful opportunity to plumb the depths of the housing debate. Just because MCM got in the last rhetorical flourish, after I believe the moderator first introduced the “own goal” actually determines nothing.

        Interesting that MCM sees future funds as unacceptable gambling. Does he think we should cash in the big one while it’s showing a profit and splash it around?

        Now I suspect I might have pulled the string so I apologise to anyone who still has the energy to follow this page! 🤯

        • Liazardbreath , the HAFF doesn’t guarantee a cent of spending to build a single new home. The HAFF needs to generate returns from the markets, those returns will need to meet the borrowing costs ( on the initial $’s10billions opening borrowed deposit ) before building new homes.

          The Government directly investing in home building, is a guarantee of home building.
          As the Max pointed out, your “the big one”, The Future Fund lost 1.2% FY 2021/22.
          ‘Losses’ for the HAFF will mean Zero building of new homes, surely not acceptable given the immediacy of the Housing Crisis.

          • Lizardbreath, on Dr Michelle’s own goal.
            It determines plenty.
            Just like Penelope Wong’s implosion in the Senate and then Dr Michelle’s Qand A effort, playing the man – the Max – rather than putting out good policy, you end up with a mess sitting in your lap.

            Yes, the Stan introduced the question but before the Max could answer, the unbridled glee of Dr Michelle thinking…..”gotcha”… as she charged in over the top of the Stan’s question in an attempted take down there and then of the Max on housing, housing in his electorate.
            As I said before, being handed a talking point headline sheet doesn’t cut it when the nitty gritty of an issue is opened up.
            I’m guessing that Dr Michelle will be reading up on the ‘Bulimba Barracks’ issue ( plenty available on the internet ) and learning a lesson for next time.

          • Joachim I was on a thread here of suggesting that yes the Greens have the numbers to block the HAFF but we can hold them to account for the decision.

            However since this was a trigger to regurgitate Max Chandler-Mather I’ll try again. Yes “The Max”, financial whizz that he is, was right onto the future fund’s – 1.2% return for the year to June 30 ‘22. There’s been a war and a pandemic and investment funds do that but to throw in this figure in isolation as an inference that the strategy is fundamentally flawed is either disingenuous or financial incompetence.

            If you had taken a break from your flag waving long enough to listen to Dr Ananda Raja you would have heard that the HAFF is a long term measure to address a huge void that has been building from 10 years of neglect and cuts to previous Labor investment. (As well as wanting to stay around a bit to institute real change, there are things Labor attempts to do to Tory proof things – a bit like putting the Voice in the Constitution) She went on to explain that the Future Fund has delivered a 10-year return of 9.7% per annum.

            I’d not be surprised if you missed the detail between Stan’s interruptions and the beaming smile and tangents of “the Max” but did you hear or take in any of that other detail Joachim? Because “the Max” and the Greens want to stop this investment!

            You’ve also had it explained that there is a huge housing skills and materials shortage and a backlog that won’t be unclogged by throwing vast sums at it. There are however other joint initiatives with the states for immediate investment.

            Do you, like “the Max”, have a problem with some long-term investment? Since its inception in May 2006 investment returns have added $134 billion to the original contributions from the Government.

      • Joachim the Senate is a house of revue, not a house for your grandstanding wannabees to big note themselves, and it is very uncommon for either of the main parties to get a majority under our voting system but reality is not your strong point, anything else you need to know?

        • Ah yes, the Grandstander- in- Chief…..take a bow Penelope Wong!
          Her ‘Max moment’ prima donna performance, a Grandstand moment for the ages…that she withdrew.

          Keith, get your mob back on track for a change, less prima donna Penelope and the shameful Kathryn Campbell action that is pi s s i n g on Robodebt victims grandstanding.

  5. It’s interesting how prior to the election the Greens were advocating that government buy back this “flood prone land” to build houses to sell to “teachers and nurses” for $300,000 and a school etc. now it’s basically a no go zone.

    While the good doctor is reading up on Bulimba Barracks land our dear “the Max” could be brushing up on his financial literacy and the history of the future fund.

    • Lizardbreath, the Bulimba Barracks site, is not a “now its basically no go zone”.
      The Max has spoken a lot about this site and issue, he knows it well, its in his electorate.
      What the Max is against is ‘bad development’ on a river that is well known for the flooding.
      A good article on this issue is on the Guardian website,
      “On home turf: housing debate gets personal for targeted Greens spokesman Max Chandler-Mather
      Joe Hinchliffe
      Sun 28 May 2023 06.00 AEST”.

  6. And if you’re interested Joachim you could Google an ABC report: Greens plan buyback for 20-hectare Bulimba Barracks on Brisbane riverfront

    It’s true that MCM is quoted as saying “the land should be bought back by the federal government and turned into parkland and community facilities, with “a small portion of affordable housing in the areas not at risk of flooding”.

    If you look at the “vision” for the area in the ABC report you’ll see that there is a small area put aside for housing – true- but that’s not where the ambition ends: affordable housing at $300,000 a pop, a k-12 school, library, meeting rooms, arts/rehearsal studios, swimming pool, full sized AFL ground etc with no mention here of nearly the whole site sitting in a flood plain or the fill that might need to be brought in. That was pre-electioneering and this is now.

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