ACT Independent Senator David Pocock has welcomed the government’s agreement to make important changes to the housing bills in response to requests from the crossbench. The government has acted on a number of the 11 amendments Senator Pocock circulated last sitting fortnight which reflected feedback from stakeholders.
The government has now responded to six out of the eight initial joint crossbench requests.
“We’re all seeing the effects of the housing crisis in our communities. It’s hurting more and more Australians. We need action,” Senator Pocock said.
“These most recent changes in response to feedback from stakeholders and the crossbench will ensure this package of bills does more to address that crisis.
“The two big areas where the government hasn’t budged are increasing the overall quantum of the fund and providing additional funding for First Nations Housing.
“However, by agreeing to bring forward the date of the first review there’s an opportunity to reassess the size of the fund and its operations.
“While the community wants to see more government investment, the need is growing and action is urgent.
“These have been difficult negotiations but ground has been given and I hope there is sufficient support in the Senate to pass the bills this week.”
The most recent changes will see the annual $500m cap on disbursements turned from a ceiling to a floor with the government guaranteeing a minimum yearly spend. Senator Pocock’s previously negotiated indexation will apply to these new arrangements.
The government will also take up Senator Pocock’s amendment creating a mechanism to lift the yearly spend and to ensure that the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council membership includes people with expertise in housing accessibility for people with disability.
The government has further committed to negotiating a universal definition of social and affordable housing with the states. This comes on top of previously announced changes requested by the crossbench including extending ERO funding by 12 months for frontline homelessness services and bringing forward the date of the first review of the Housing Australia Future Fund.