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PM Albanese’s housing bill faces uncertain future amid rent cap controversy


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to reintroduce the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill to parliament, in a final attempt to pass his signature housing package. If unsuccessful, the Prime Minister could trigger a double dissolution election, which could take place from October onwards.

The fate of the legislation hinges on the support of the Greens. The party has so far left the bill in limbo, calling for greater protection for tenants struggling with soaring rental costs and more certainty regarding the funding for building from the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund that’s to be leveraged on the stock market.

The government has addressed the latter concern with a $2 billion funding boost distributed throughout the states and territories to accelerate the construction of social housing. They also assured a minimum of $500 million per year available from the $10 billion fund to finance social and affordable housing.

However, when it comes to rental caps, both the Prime Minister and the government’s Minister for Housing, Julie Collins, have made it clear that no federal mandate will be forthcoming. “We’ve been very clear that we don’t have the levers available for rent freezes. Some of the states and territories have already ruled them out. What we have done is put renters’ rights on the national cabinet agenda,” Collins told ABC News Radio on 31 July.

On the same day, Albanese told ABC Radio Sydney that he could not “negotiate on behalf of eight states and territories” on the issue of rental caps, describing the scenario as “absurd”.

When asked if he would trigger an election if the measure does not pass in this sitting, Albanese did not provide a definitive answer. He did, however, promise that he wouldn’t use this option at his earliest convenience in October. “There certainly won’t be an election in October,” the Prime Minister said. “I’d rather not have it,” he added, referring to the option of calling an election. “I’d rather have this policy passed.”

With renters’ rights added to the national cabinet agenda, the Prime Minister is hoping that this concession, coupled with social pressure, will persuade the Greens to pass the bill.


Both Albanese and Collins emphasised that the country’s major homelessness organisations were advocating for the bill’s passage. Before parliament broke for winter at the end of June, seven of the country’s bodies involved in homelessness advocacy urged parliament to adopt the bill, stating that while the new laws were not perfect, it was better to move forward with the current proposals than to return to the drawing board.

“We have a clear mandate for it,” Albanese said of the housing industry’s response to the bill. “Housing groups, including whether it’s the Master Builders Association or the Housing Industry Association, or groups such as Shelter, and those who look after community housing and the homeless are all calling for this. It’s just extraordinary that it’s been blocked,” he said. “The Greens don’t say that it’s bad policy, they just say we want more, therefore we’ll have nothing,” he warned.

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