Event: Denita Wawn interview with Matthew Pantelis, FIVEaa
Date: Friday, 28 July 2023, 10.00am AEST
Speakers: Matthew Pantelis, host FIVEaa; Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia
Topics: Housing Australia Future Fund
Matthew Pantelis, host FIVEaa: Well, the federal government will launch a new attempt to have its housing policy passed through parliament. The Albanese government trying to get its $10 billion housing fund passed. It’s been rejected previously in the senate some months ago. The opposition saying it’s not the best way to deal with the housing crisis. The Greens arguing the policy is not ambitious enough. They want far more spent on public housing. Labor maintains the scheme strikes the right balance and says the proceeds of the fund, the money will be invested into a fund, and the interest essentially would deliver 30,000 social and affordable homes over five years. The government will re-introduce the legislation when parliament sits next week. If it fails to pass a second time it gives the Prime Minister the ability to call a double dissolution election which, if he does, I mean he would be a poor student of history because double dissolutions haven’t worked out well for first term governments. Bob Hawke found that out in 1984. He almost lost. Malcolm Turnbull came to a seat of losing in the Liberal’s first term election after Tony Abbott was elected in 2013. He held on by just a seat in a double dissolution and both had extremely lengthy campaigns over a couple of months from when the election had to be called because of the timing nature of a double dissolution. But that’s the political side of that. The housing side of it is that many groups say it will be a shot in the arm and just what is needed in the country at this time. Denita Wawn is CEO of the Master Builders Association of Australia and joins me now. Denita, good morning.
Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia: Good morning.
Matthew: So that’s a lot of houses ready to go would imagine once the legislation passes?
Denita: Indeed, and this is just one piece of the housing crisis jigsaw puzzle that we need to fill. We’ve got a massive shortage of homes in this country whether it’s community housing, social housing, rental properties, and homes for families. So, we say it’s critical that this legislation goes through. Particularly at a time where private investment in housing is dwindling because of the cost of construction and increasing interest rates. So, it’s critical it gets through. We’ve been imploring for some time for the Coalition and the Greens to support it. It’s the start of the process. It’s not the whole process. But nevertheless, it’s an important part of it.
Matthew: What are they telling you? What are the holding blocks here? The Greens want more invested I know that. I mean they’d have every cent of the federal budget into housing if they could and other projects too. But the Coalition, what’s their reason for not supporting it?
Denita: Well, my understanding is that they don’t like the process that has been suggested by the federal government. We’re of the view that any process is a good process to resolve shortages in community and social housing in this country and so let’s get behind it. It’s something that a coalition of housing, people in the housing industry including ourselves right through to the unions and community housing providers have said is a good structure to do and it’s critical that we not only get government investment, but we get institutional investment. There are ways that institutional investors in this country are keen to invest in community housing but there is a yield gap in terms of returns to their investors. So, we’re hoping that some of this fund can be used not only for direct housing but also meet that yield gap which means actually more homes for community housing. So, there’s huge opportunities here. We just think let’s get on with it.
Matthew: Alright. Denita, thank you for your time this morning. Appreciate that.
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