The Australian Greens have vowed to block the federal government’s $10 billion housing fund unless significant changes are made to address what they see as key issues with the proposed fund.

This move could potentially become the first major legislative defeat for the government.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

  • The Greens have stated their intention to oppose the government’s housing fund unless significant changes are implemented.
  • According to Greens leader Adam Bandt, the proposed fund lacks sufficient support for renters and should also restrict negative gearing discounts.
  • Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has stated that if the Greens are seeking more affordable housing, they should support the housing fund proposed by the government.

The government needs the support of the Greens to pass the bill, which would fund 30,000 social and affordable homes over the next decade through returns on the fund.

However, the Greens argue that the Housing Australia Future Fund bill includes no support for renters and has no guaranteed minimum spend in the event that the fund does not generate a return.

To earn their support, the Greens have called for a fund to support:

  • A two-year rental price freeze;
  • The direct building of 225,000 publicly owned properties over the decade; and
  • A doubling of Commonwealth Rent Assistance, unless income support payments such as JobSeeker and Youth Allowance are increased.

The Greens propose that the cost of their proposals, which would amount to just shy of $70 billion over the decade, could be paid for by phasing out negative gearing for people with two or more investment properties and abolishing capital gains tax discounts on assets held for more than 12 months.

Under the Greens’ proposal, the “negative gearing” tax scheme, which allows investors to deduct net rental losses from their income tax, would be phased out over five years on multiple properties.

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Instead, investors would be required to choose just one to which they could apply the discount. Treasury tax statements in 2019-2020 found that three-quarters of the tax deductions claimed using negative gearing were by the top 10 per cent of earners.

The government has confirmed it will oppose the bill if the Greens do not support it.

However, after weeks of negotiation without progress, Greens leader Adam Bandt told the National Press Club that his party would reject the bill as it stood.

Bandt accused the Labor Party of being willing to spend over half a trillion dollars on stage three tax cuts for the wealthy and on nuclear-powered submarines but not ready to find $5 billion a year for public housing and $1.6 billion for a rent freeze in the middle of a housing crisis.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Greens’ position was “completely illogical” and accused them of voting against $10 billion in social and affordable housing investment.

Albanese said that the housing fund was in addition to other housing supports the government had already introduced, including an agreement with the states and territories to build 1 million new homes over five years, accompanied by an additional $350 million over that time.

The ongoing housing crisis in Australia has resulted in skyrocketing prices, making it difficult for many Australians to find affordable housing.

The Greens’ proposal to restrict negative gearing and introduce a rental price freeze aims to address this issue by targeting wealthy investors who own multiple properties.

However, the government has argued that the housing fund would provide significant social and affordable housing support and that blocking it would do more harm than good.

The debate over the housing fund highlights the growing divide between the major parties and the Greens on issues related to housing affordability and inequality.

With the federal election looming, it remains to be seen how the housing crisis will be addressed and what impact it will have on the outcome of the election.