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Byron Shire
September 21, 2023

Let’s unpack federal Labor’s housing bill and attack ads! 

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Political attack ads are underway by the local sitting Labor MP just a week after Greens candidate, Mandy Nolan, announced her second tilt for the local federal seat of Richmond.

According to www.aph.gov.au, the next federal election could be between August 3, 2024 and May 17, 2025. 

Re-elected local federal Labor MP, Justine Elliot. Photo Tree Faerie

Long standing Labor MP, Justine Elliot, who has held the seat since 2004, has been using social media and newspaper ads to accuse the federal Greens of blocking a $10B Housing Australia Future Fund Bill 2023, which she says will ‘build social and affordable housing plus housing for women and children fleeing domestic violence, and more’.

By Monday, the federal Greens halved their demands in supporting the legislation, and are now calling for an ‘immediate rent freeze’ and a ‘guaranteed minimum spend of $2.5 billion per year on public, community, and affordable housing, starting now’. 

The Echo asked Nolan whether she believes Labor’s bill is at least a step in the right direction, ‘and then the law could be improved in the future?’ 

Mandy Nolan. Photo David Lowe.

‘Does nothing for renters’ 

Nolan replied that Labor’s bill ‘does nothing for renters, many of whom are one rent increase away from homelessness.’

‘Currently, there is a shortage of 640,000 social and affordable homes in Australia, and that’s set to grow by 75,000 over the next five years.

‘The 30,000 homes figure [from the Bill] is best case scenario, and even then, it’s based on an allocation of $83,000 per home. $83,000! I’d like to know what home our local Labor member thinks she can build for $83,000. 

‘Labor has an opportunity to directly invest billions in public and affordable homes, and instead, they’re choosing tax cuts for the rich, stadiums and submarines. There is nothing stopping them from investing directly in public housing but themselves’.

Nolan says the unmet housing need in the Richmond electorate (from Tweed to Ballina Shires) is estimated to be 5,800 homes, according to UNSW City Future Research Centre.

Ten-year waiting list for social housing in Richmond electorate 

And, according to the NSW government’s own statistics, the Richmond electorate has a social housing wait list time of more than ten years.

‘At the same time, the government is winding back the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), which will see 97 homes removed from government-subsidised housing in Tweed Heads (Richmond electorate)’. 

On page 10 of the December 2022 NRAS Quarterly Performance Report, it states 20 government-subsidised homes will be removed in Tweed by 2024, and a further 77 by 2026.

 Additionally, Lismore (page 9) is set to lose 20 government-subsidised homes by 2026.

‘The government is doing nothing whatsoever for the 16,786 families renting in Richmond’, said Nolan.

Elliot replied to Nolan’s claims with the assertion that ‘at all levels of government, the Labor Party builds houses and the Greens Party blocks them’.

Referring to the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), Mrs Elliot said it was a ‘desperate attempt to divert attention from her party’s destructive actions in the Federal Parliament’ and, that Nolan ‘failed to understand that this program was actually cancelled nearly a decade ago by [former Liberals PM] Tony Abbott and had been deliberately winding down under previous Liberals-National governments ever since then, leaving us with nothing’.

New solutions needed: Labor 

‘With this program having been cancelled by the previous government, we need new solutions – and the Albanese Labor Government has introduced the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, the biggest investment in social and affordable housing in a decade. 

‘Unfortunately, as Echo readers will know, the Greens are blocking it – along with the Liberals, Nationals, and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation’.

‘As the Assistant Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, I’m on the ground speaking to people and groups involved, and working hard to get this bill passed. 

‘Our community is desperate for housing and the Greens Party needs to either back the bill or just get out of the way.

Fixing a decade of neglect from the previous government (which let wait times for housing in Richmond blow out to 10 years) needs action, and our community has every right to be angry that the Greens Party continues to block this important bill in Parliament.’

‘It’s very, very disappointing that Mandy Nolan’s Greens Party colleagues are delaying the building of 30,000 new social and affordable homes for people in need.

Elliot added, ‘It’s disgraceful that, while locals are living in cars, and women and children fleeing domestic violence have nowhere to go, candidate Mandy Nolan and her Greens Party colleagues are playing political games to try to win votes’.

Doesn’t add up

Nolan’s office also told The Echo, ‘The Housing Australia Future Fund is a $10 billion investment fund that gambles tax payer dollars on the stock market’. 

‘[If it were in place now] The fund would have lost $120 million last financial year. 

‘In the years that the fund does generate a return, the bill caps total spend at $500 million a year. 

Given the average cost of constructing social housing is about $300,000, and the absolute maximum investment per year is $500 million – that equates to about 1,600 homes. 

Over five years, that would be about 8,000 homes, not 30,000. It just doesn’t add up. 

‘The bill also doesn’t account for skyrocketing inflation; hence being a gamble’. 

‘This is in contrast to investing directly in social and affordable housing to address the housing crisis now’. 

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  1. The NRAS, ex-PM Rudd set it up in 2008 with a 10 life for the rental properties part of the scheme.
    The NRAS, ex-PM Abbott in 2014 put a stopper to additional entrants / properties coming into the NRAS.
    There is plenty of analysis as to the value or otherwise of NRAS to be found on the internet.

    The Justine and her ALP, there is nothing stopping you right now from direct investment into building new homes.
    Housing is a basic human right. There is a housing crisis now that needs action, Now. There is no excuse to wait the remainder of 2023, 2024, to then maybe sometime in 2025 ( depending of course upon the HAFF making a $ ) to lay the first brick building a new home. All the while the waiting list keeps growing.

    ALP, just do it, start direct investing and building, Now.
    Its not as if the $’s is really the issue, is it. Not when $’s20billions pa can be splashed out on Negative Gearing and Capital Gains Tax Concessions; not when a lazy $’s240millions can be splashed out for anew footie stadium; not when $’s313billions can be afforded for Stage 3 Tax Cuts; not when $’s368billions can be afforded for Submarines.
    The $’s to build homes right now can be found and afforded from a recently announced $’s4billions Budget Surplus.
    What we seemingly can’t find is any ALP will to start building homes right, Now.

  2. The ALP government needs to re-think the process. The Greens have a rational argument and the research to prove their point.
    Joachim has summarised it neatly.
    Just start building ( if they can find someone to do it).

    • “ ( if they can find someone to do it)” indeed. Sarah Ferguson was taking the housing minister to task on 7.30 last night because the building industry are suggesting they won’t be able to build Labor’s targeted numbers.

      I’d disagree with your assessment of Joachim’s contribution but I’d be writing the same stuff that’s already been censored? 🙊

  3. Could the greens stop calling for national rent freeze from the federal government. Sounds good politically but under our constitution it is a state matter.
    Also attack ads from local mp, really a very biased headline considering the obvious support for spruiking nolan in the echo.

  4. For God’s sake dear Joachim, just what is all of this constant lecturing nonsense from the Greens?, the last thing Labor needs is “advice” from a minority political party that struggles to get 12% of the national vote because the other 88? of voters think the Greens are total whack jobs. And wouldn’t it make more sense for the Greens to stop the political posturing and sucking up to the LNP whenever the opportunity arises and pass Labors housing policy in the Senate, something the country is desperately crying out for. About the only thing the Greens are dependable for is constantly wrecking good policy just to grab a headline and feed their ideological narrative. If you want to keep acting like spoilt brats who can’t get their own way start apologising to the thousands of wannabe Aussie home owners who have been waiting for years for Govt assistance. Time for the Greens to grow up and act like adults, yeah.

  5. A bit better effort here Hans – at least you sought comment from the incumbent – but the headline is rather inflammatory and we can see who gets first and last say.

    However, there’s enough here to flag some questions.

    Exactly what is the Greens objection to the housing affordability bill? Is it:

    * That it gambles money on the stock exchange? Why then do they say it’s not enough and they want 15 mil gambled instead.

    * That the future fund had negative growth last financial year so they extrapolate that this type of investment is an invalid strategy? Perhaps their product disclosure statement should give the full picture: that the ten year average return was 9.2%

    * That it should invest some or all of it now? Taking the former, there is immediate funding in the bill as well as initiatives signed off with the states. If the latter, how will a sudden injection of 15 mil work right now? There is a huge shortage of skills and materials in the building industry and throwing money at it won’t fix it. Mandy says the figures don’t allow for inflation. Very true; we are in an inflationary cycle – which affects the least advantaged most – and attempting to supercharge the building industry won’t help. Which leads to me to …

    * Do the Greens object in principle to long term planning? To investing the funds that won’t produce the housing overnight into a strategy for ensuring some predictability in the social housing market and make it harder for the conservatives to dismantle?

    Mandy states that the ALP has done nothing for renters. Apart from the bill they are trying to pass there is the increase in rent assistance and general cost of living measures – bulk billing incentives, cheaper medicine and energy bill relief – don’t go astray either.

    Now who’s attacking whom and whose ad appeared first in the Echo

  6. Perhaps if Nolan and the Greens didn’t constantly attack every Labor policy, that Greens and LNP together were obstructing, Elliot wouldn’t be forced into having to make all these replies?
    Perhaps if Nolan wasn’t being advised by the usual shallow Nationals party strategies and tactics by Catherine Cusack, things would be a lot more civil? Labor will just have to keep on Governing in every State and Federally while the LNP/Greens work together white anting and undermining and obstructing every Labor policy! Thats the cheap nasty politics we have come to expect though isn’t it folks?

    • Spot on Mr Tweed, who is Nolan anyhow, apart from a failed Greens candidate and a local comedian, the two go hand in hand don’t they?

      • Keith, you like comedy when it Greens in colour.
        Best not look too hard at the comedy act being delivered by your own ALP mob – Kathryn Campbell and now the Brittany Higgins situation.

        It doesn’t matter whether it ALP or LNP, the same old rubbish keeps being delivered.
        Doing the right thing or telling the truth, is just too hard for ALP and LNP. Its like pulling teeth, the truth eventually outs.

    • Tweed, what you call “attack” is actually the seeking to improve deficient proposals. That’s the house of review function of the Senate in action.

  7. I seemed to have missed something in both this report and a recent one announcing Mandy’s decision: “ just a week after Greens candidate, Mandy Nolan, announced her second tilt for the local federal seat of Richmond.”

    Is Mandy announcing that she has decided to stand for Greens preselection or have the Greens already conduction their preselection for the seat of Richmond?

    • Lizardbreath, this might help you.

      From AFR Newspaper story,
      ‘Greens jump on housing woes for 2025 election
      Tom McIlroy Political correspondent
      May 21, 2023 – 10.00pm”

      In part from that AFR story,
      “The next federal election in 2025 is still two years away, but Greens leader Adam Bandt has named comedian Mandy Nolan as the party’s candidate for the northern NSW seat of Richmond.”

      From Greens website,

      In part from that Greens website post,
      “Lines attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP:

      “Mandy’s loved as a comedian and local legend in Richmond, but she’s fighting on two issues that are deadly serious in the region, the climate crisis and the housing crisis.

      “Richmond is ground zero for both the climate crisis and the housing crisis: people are still reeling from the floods and the rental market’s cooked, with out-of-town investors gouging prices.

      “Labor’s putting the people of Richmond at risk of worse floods by opening up new coal and gas mines, and Justine Elliot will have to defend that..

      “At the last election people were desperate to kick out the Liberals, but now they’re realising Labor also wants new coal and gas, which makes the climate crisis worse, as well as billions in handouts for property moguls, which pushes up rents and house prices. Labor has no plan whatsoever to help renters and Labor’s housing bill sees the crisis get worse.

      “Mandy’s already got a team of volunteers ready to hit the streets and talk to Richmond residents about how the Greens are the only party fighting for renters and climate action.”

      And the Mandy has confirmed her candidacy for Richmond with her own announcement.

      • Thanks Joachim. It seems all I needed for my answer was in the very first bit. So Adam Bandt named Mandy as the candidate. Very democratic! With these processes it’s no wonder they end up in a spot of bother with internal tensions.

        Lest I offend 🦎

        • Lizardbreath, I detect some pain on your behalf over what may be called a ‘Captain’s Pick’ by Leader Adam.
          Of course neither ALP nor LNP have never ever made a ‘Captain’s Pick’, have they.

          Your pain will be salved at 2025 Fed Election when the Mandy romps home to win Richmond, totally vindicating Leader Adam’s ‘Captain’s Pick’.

          • The old Captain’s pick! Of course the other parties do it but there is some process of selection whether or not it’s taken from the local lot. Besides, the Greens are supposed to be the party of grassroots democracy.

            I’m not “in pain” about the thought of Mandy or another Green taking the seat of Richmond though I think it would be a shame if the electorate lost a voice in government (and I’m hoping like mad – unlike you – that Labor will be in government after the next election)

            (Are we there yet?) 🦎


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