Australia Today

The Greens Will Try to Force Albanese to Fix the Housing Crisis

The wait-list for those seeking social housing grew by 8,000 households last year to 163,508. More than 116,000 Australians are experiencing homelessness.
A person stands outside public housing
Photo by Darrian Traynor / Getty Images

The Greens are pushing for the construction of more public housing and a two-year national rent freeze, and are banking on leveraging their balance of power in the Senate to force the government into negotiations when its new housing policy lands in the upper house.

After a party room meeting earlier this week, the Greens announced they will push the government to increase its commitment to build more affordable housing by a huge amount, from 30,000 homes over the next five years, to 275,000 over the same period. 


The party will also look to negotiate with the government on the introduction of new tenancy standards, along with $5 billion worth of additional investments in maintenance and upgrades to existing public housing, to improve accessibility, energy efficiency, and lift heating and cooling standards. 

Reports of Australia’s housing crisis grow more stark by the day. The outskirts of major cities around the country are now laden with tents, where young families have had no choice but to brave the elements of an unrelenting winter with nothing but a layer of polyester to protect them. In far-north Queensland, the emergency housing shortage is so acute that welfare agencies have begun handing out tents to those unable to find shelter. 

Elsewhere, Australians are living in their cars, and consider themselves lucky, while others have found themselves living week-to-week in caravan parks, paying metropolitan rents, and consider themselves luckier still.


Greens MP and spokesperson for housing and homelessness, Max Chandler-Mather, said the government’s current plan not only fails to address Australia’s housing crisis, but allows for it to spiral. 

“Labor plans on spending $244 billion on the Stage 3 tax cuts for the rich and just $10 billion on housing, while doing nothing for renters,” Chandler-Mather said. 

“Right now, Australians need at least an extra 520,000 public and community homes, and that need increases by 14,000 homes every year. So Labor’s plan to build 6,000 public, community and affordable homes a year won’t even match the yearly increase in need, let alone tackle the crisis.”

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the wait list for those seeking social housing grew by 8,000 households last year, up from 155,141 to 163,508, while the latest available census figures from 2016 counted more than 116,000 Australians experiencing homelessness.

As it stands, the government has committed to spend $10 billion on 20,000 new social housing properties across the country over the next five years, along with 10,000 affordable homes for frontline workers, like police, nurses and cleaners, who have for the most part been priced out of the areas where they work.

Even still, that would leave more than 130,000 Australians in the lurch, while those in the private market find themselves being priced out, too.


According to new analysis commissioned by the Greens from the parliamentary library, Australia’s public and community housing levels are set to fall to historic lows under the government’s current housing plan. 

The analysis found public and community housing has fallen from a peak of 7.1 percent of all homes across the country in 1991, to just 3.7 percent today. That share would continue to fall under Labor’s policy, which by 2032 could see public housing account for just 3.3 percent of all homes.

It would be the lowest level of public housing since the Commonwealth introduced it. 

The housing plan Albanese took to the election in May has been broadly criticised across parliament, and among public and community housing experts nationwide. In the short-term, they broadly agree the government should work to get moving on “shovel-ready” projects to boost supply, and extend the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS).

The NRAS was introduced in 2008, but is due to expire in 2026. When it eventually winds down, more than 27,400 households will be tossed to the whims of the private market. 

Chandler-Mather said that, by the end of Labor’s five year plan, Australia could see more people waiting for public and community housing, and the lowest levels of public and community housing since the second world war. 

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