Property News, Insights & Education

    HAFF Bill Receives Green Light After Green Party's Approval

    The Labor government’s Housing Australia Future Fund Bill has finally received the green light, after being blocked by the Green’s party in the senate for the better part of this year.

     

    Introduced to the senate in March, the HAFF bill has been delayed by the Greens party who have demanded rent caps and rent freezes in return for their support.

     

    But yesterday the Greens Party finally gave their nod of approval, after the Albanese government agreed to fund a further $1 billion of social and affordable housing, in addition to the $2 billion already promised earlier this year.

     

    The HAFF Bill will pass through the senate during this fortnight’s sitting, according to the Greens party, but Adam Bandt has indicated it won't be the last we hear of rent freezes.

     

    “Renters are powerful and the Greens are the party of renters. We have won more money for housing for renters, and rent control is next,” Mr Bandt said.

     

    “Nine months ago, the government refused to guarantee a single dollar for housing, and renters barely even registered in the national debate. The Greens have secured $3 billion directly spent on housing, and renters are now a vocal social movement that won’t be ignored.

     

    “Labor’s HAFF still won’t fix the housing crisis, but the Greens have secured $3 billion dollars for housing right now - not relying on a gamble on the stock market - and we’ve got to a position where it can pass the Senate.”

     

    Greens criticised for holding up

    housing stock

     

    The HAFF Bill has been the subject of much debate, with multiple industry bodies and politicians calling on the Greens to pass the bill, so that Australia can get on with addressing the mounting housing crisis.

     

    Back in June, Senator Jackie Lambie called the Greens blocking of the bill ‘bloody crap’ in an appearance on SkyNews.

     

    “I challenge if the Greens really think that they want to put a hold to this until they get their rental freeze crap through, then be my guest,” said Senator Lambie.

     

    “Because right now your supporters what they’re telling me mate, they’re getting argy bargy and you want to keep playing with people’s lives. 

     

    “I mean, they sit there and they pride themselves on their social values, and they’re there for the most vulnerable people in Australia, and if this is their way of showing that’s what they’re there for… bloody crap.”

     

    Peak housing bodies breathe a sigh of relief

     

    After months of urging the Greens Party to pass the HAFF bill, peak industry bodies are relieved to finally see an agreement reached.

     

    Australia is currently facing a housing supply crisis that has pushed rents and house prices upwards, locking large populations out of home ownership, and subjecting renters in Australia’s capital cities to the steepest rent rises in 15 years, according to CoreLogic.

     

    Earlier this year, the Albanese government announced ambitious targets to build 1.2 million well located homes from the five years beginning July 2024. The target is ambitious, and the announcement resulted in renewed pressure to pass the HAFF bill.

     

    Now, industry experts are welcoming the announcement.

     

    “This is welcome news for new social housing and housing supply in general,” said chief executive of the Property Council of Australia, Mike Zorbas.

     

    “Australia now has a better chance of achieving our ambitious national target of 1.2 million homes by 2029.

     

    “Now we must turn our attention to the unfinished business of improving our state planning systems so they can deal with the welcome influx of skilled migrants and students over the decade ahead,” said Mr Zorbas.

     

    Job not yet done

     

    The funding committed in the HAFF bill will go some way to assist in building the 1.2 million new homes, but as Jocelyn Martin, managing director of HIA, points out - the funding will only provide a small fraction of the housing target.

     

    “It is important to recognise that the commitment to supply 30,000 social and affordable homes via the Housing Australia Future Fund represents only 2.5 percent of this aspirational target,” said Ms Martin.

     

    It’s expected that mum and dad investors, residential home buyers, and developers will fund and build the remainder of the homes, but the construction industry has been plagued with increasing costs and labour shortages, hampering abilities to get homes on the ground quickly.

     

    There are also issues of planning and approval processes that tend to hold up the timely and efficient construction of dwellings.

     

    Ms Martin suggests that a range of reforms need to be implemented, to allow the construction industry to actually build the ambitious housing target.

     

    “The private sector will still have to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of meeting Australia’s housing needs, and it is being constrained by policy that inflates the costs of home construction and finance.

     

    “Broader reforms are required to reduce these costs and aid the private sector in enabling the delivery of these targets:

     

    • Planning systems need to facilitate more higher density residential development in existing suburbs near jobs and transport.
    • The release of greenfield land and provision of infrastructure needs to be expedited.
    • Punitive taxes on both investors and owner occupiers need to be abolished and replaced with fairer and broader sources of revenue.
    • Financial regulations need to make it easier for banks to lend and potential home buyers to borrow.

     

    “Without these broader reforms, the pressure on social and affordable housing will only increase, and the government’s latest announcement will prove inadequate,” concluded Ms Martin.

     

    While the passing of the HAFF bill and the government’s housing targets represent steps in the right direction, they still fall dismally short of addressing Australia’s mounting housing crisis. 

     

    The harsh reality is that we need more homes than what the government will fund, and construction needs a large, multi-faceted boost with changes to the processes that underpin current approval pathways.

     

    Until then, house prices will continue to rise, as demand continues to heavily outstrip supply.