Treasury Confirms $2bn Budget Blowout on Empty Housing Promise
A joint media release with Michael Sukkar MP Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness
Senator Dean Smith Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
23 June 2023
Treasury officials have confirmed that Labor’s announcement of a $2 billion payment to the States and Territories is nothing more than an empty promise, without even a commitment that the money will deliver an outcome.
Under questioning from Senator Dean Smith at a hearing of the Cost of Living Committee in Canberra, Treasury confirmed that the payments to the states and territories were not linked to any requirement to reform planning or zoning, development regulations or productivity.
Treasury confirmed that the Labor Government has committed $2 billion of taxpayer’s money without even the requirement for the States and Territories to nominate how many houses will be built, despite the Prime Minister saying last week it would be “thousands in the coming years.”
Officials also confirmed that there was no commitment sought from State governments to maintain their level of spending of social housing, leaving the door open for the states to simply use this payment to prop up their budget bottom lines.
In an attempt to pull off some tricky accounting, officials also confirmed that the money will be rushed out the door before the end of financial year despite it not being in the 2023-24 Budget or the 2022-23 October Budget.
Shadow Minister for Finance and Chair of the Cost of Living Committee, Senator Jane Hume said, this was another announcement that would cost Labor’s already outdated Budget, without delivering real cost of living relief to Australians.
“Housing costs are a key driver of the cost of living crisis facing Australians. High inflation is pushing up rents and it’s pushing up mortgage repayments because the RBA has been left to do all the heavy lifting on getting inflation down.
“If Labor wanted to help Australians with their housing costs, they’d rein in spending to help get inflation down and go back to the drawing board to come up with a policy that will actually deliver more housing supply. It’s not rocket science, it’s basic economics,” Senator Hume said.
Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Michael Sukkar said, the Government’s announcement of a $2 billion payment to the States and Territories was nothing more than a desperate political attempt to pressure the Greens into supporting the smoke and mirrors Housing Australia Future Fund.
“Labor has not been able to identify which new projects will be funded, where they will be located or when they’ll be delivered, meaning there is no guarantee a single home will be built, and the allocated funding will inevitably be absorbed into existing State and Territory housing projects.
“Labor must come clean about how this funding will be used by the states and territories, because under this government we are continuing to see a growing demand for new homes, yet a slowdown in homes being built and a worsening housing crisis,” Mr Sukkar said.
Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, Senator Dean Smith said that the Government’s work was more about accounting tricks rather than delivering more houses.
“The key to bringing down the cost of housing is more supply, but instead of demanding planning and zoning reform from the states to open up supply in exchange for this $2 billion, Labor is handing out blank cheques.
“The commitment of billions of dollars of new money just five weeks after the Budget is proof Labor is approaching the housing crisis with a total lack of sound policy,” Senator Smith concluded.