Greens want rent freeze to break ice on housing fund

The Greens are looking to leverage their balance of power to force a national rent freeze in exchange for passing the government’s signature housing package.

Leader Adam Bandt will use a National Press Club address on Wednesday to push for support for renters in the May budget.

Mr Bandt says a rent freeze is not only legal but politically possible after the prime minister dismissed the suggestion.

“Rents have skyrocketed. There are not enough affordable homes. Millions are stressed just trying to keep a roof over their heads,” he will say.

“If Labor wants our support on its housing bill, it needs to come to the table on the rental crisis and on building more public and affordable housing.”

The Greens leader points to rent freezes imposed by some state and territory governments during the pandemic and laws capping rent increases at once a year.

The minor party which holds the balance of power in the Senate will also push to pump an extra $1.6 billion of extra funding into states and territories through the national affordable housing agreement.

The rent freeze and extra money for social housing will be offset by phasing out negative gearing and removing capital gains tax breaks for people with more than one investment property.

“This isn’t about someone who owns one extra house or flat as an investment in addition to their main residence,” Mr Bandt says.

“It is about the 20,000 wealthy moguls who own more than six properties each and claim these handouts for the 151,000 houses they own between them.”

Ending the tax breaks will raise $74 billion, while the Greens’ proposed double rent assistance, freeze and more affordable housing would cost just more than $69 billion.

The government faces an uphill battle to get its housing package passed in the Senate, with the Greens and crossbenchers withholding their votes for the $10 billion fund.

The government’s housing future fund aims to finance the construction of 30,000 social and affordable rental homes over five years.

The coalition opposes the policy, saying the amount of money that needs to be borrowed under the fund would be inflationary and push up interest rates.


Dominic Giannini
(Australian Associated Press)


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