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Senate greenlights Housing Future Fund

by Kate Aubrey11 minute read

The federal government’s housing bill has received a majority vote in the Senate, despite opposition from the coalition.

The federal government’s housing bill, which had been subject to months of negotiations, finally passed through parliament this week after the Labor Party struck a deal with the Greens and crossbenchers.

In exchange for their support, Labor agreed to allocate an additional $1 billion to public and community housing, up from the previous $2 billion deal it had already cut.

As widely anticipated, the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill 2023 (HAFF Bill) successfully passed the Senate on Tuesday, September 13, securing a majority vote despite the Coalition’s lack of support.


Despite amendments made to the bill, the Coalition’s additional requests were rejected, leading them to vote against it.

The bill, initially introduced in February, faced delays due to concerns raised by the ‘No-alition’ comprised of the Coalition, One Nation, and the Greens.

These concerns revolved around potential inflationary impacts and a call from the Greens for increased funding for social and affordable housing, as well as a rent freeze.

While the government rejected the idea of a rent freeze, it did increase its allocation for social and affordable housing by a total of $3 billion, ultimately gaining the support of the Greens.

However, Liberal Senator Anne Ruston criticised Labor and the Greens for what she called “deals done in smoke-filled rooms.”

The HAFF Bill will give effect to the government’s 2022 election commitment to establish the $10 billion HAFF to fund the delivery of 30,000 social and affordable homes and allocate an additional $330 million to acute housing needs over the HAFF’s first five years.

This includes:

  • $200 million for the repair, maintenance, and improvement of housing in remote Indigenous communities.
  • $100 million for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence and older women at risk of homelessness.
  • $30 million to build housing for veterans who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness.

In addition to a further 4,000 homes for women and children affected by family and domestic violence or older women.

The government commits to disbursing at least $500 million annually from 2024–25 onwards to support social and affordable housing.

Senator Ruston questioned how the government would cover any shortfalls if the fund failed to generate the full $500 million.

In response, the Labor government clarified that the fund is designed to disperse a minimum of $500 million each year for social and affordable housing.

“The nature of these kinds of funds, of which there are many in Australia and around the world is that they have investment objectives and are designed to exist for a very long period of time,” Senator Murray Watt explained.

“The government will monitor it in terms of the operations of this fund closely.”

Additionally, the government agreed to conduct the first statutory review of the Housing Australia Future Fund by 31 December 2026, based on recommendations from Senator David Pocock and the Greens.

“This will enhance transparency by providing an early opportunity to provide an update on the fund’s performance and outcomes,” Senator Watt said.

“As with the draft bill, there’ll be a period for consultation and interested stakeholders will have the opportunity to make submissions before the direction is finalised,” Senator Watt said.

Additionally, the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council Bill 2023 was passed, which establishes the National Housing Supply and Affordability Council as an independent advisory body.

Along with the Treasury Laws Amendment (Housing Measures No. 1) Bill 2023, which changes the name of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation to Housing Australia and streamlines its functions.

[Related: $10bn housing fund set to pass Senate]

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