Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Anton Nilsson

‘Housing is a human right’ gone from Labor platform as Greens ramp up attacks

An acknowledgment that “housing is a basic human right” has been removed from a draft of the Labor Party’s new policy platform, prompting the Greens to claim the government is “running away from the platform they were elected on”.

The crossbench party, which is locked in a high-stakes battle with Labor over the shape of a $10 billion housing initiative that Labor is trying to pass through the Senate, has gone through the publicly available draft 2023 Labor Party platform with a fine-tooth comb.

Housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather pointed to a number of sections on housing that had featured in the platform Labor took to the 2022 election, but which have been either omitted or watered down in the new draft. 

The passages included the pledge that Labor “recognises that the responsibility of funding the construction and repair of social housing … is the shared responsibility of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments”.

A passage in the new draft reads: “Labor believes that improving housing outcomes for Australians requires all levels of government, industry and stakeholders to work together.”

Chandler-Mather said: “People desperately want the government to do more on housing, but Labor’s running away from the platform they were elected on and the solutions we know will actually work to tackle the housing crisis, that’s having enormous impacts across the country.” 

Crikey understands the draft, made available for consultation on the party’s website and dated May 19, is not necessarily the final one that will be debated at its national conference in August. 

Crikey understands the policy platform will continue to be consulted on until the conference in August.

Housing Minister Julie Collins described the government’s housing agenda as “ambitious” in a statement to Parliament’s question time on Tuesday. She said many Australians faced “housing challenges … whether it be for renters, buyers or those trying to find a safe affordable place to call home”.

“We are trying to turn this around, but it will take coordinated action and indeed significant investments. Our ambitious housing agenda is ambitious because it needs to be,” she said. 

On Tuesday Labor postponed a Senate debate on its social housing fund after the Greens refused to support it in its current form. The fund is designed to build 30,000 social and affordable homes using future returns on a $10 billion investment to pay for them, without dipping into the budget.

The Greens, emboldened by the power of its 11-person bloc in the Senate, have demanded the government spend at least $2.5 billion on public and affordable housing and spearhead a national rent freeze, down from the $5 billion they initially floated. On Tuesday they rejected a government offer to guarantee at least $500 million a year for new social and affordable housing.

Both sides have accused the other of playing politics with the issue. “Sadly, this has become all about the politics. And it shouldn’t be,” Collins told question time. “This is not an opportunity for doorknocking. It’s not an opportunity for campaigning. It’s about people on the ground, people that need homes the most.”

Some of the housing policies that were included in Labor’s current platform but omitted from the new draft include:

  • “Labor acknowledges that access to safe and secure housing is a basic human right and believes that housing affordability is one of the biggest issues facing Australians.”
  • “Labor recognises that the responsibility of funding the construction and repair of social housing, including both public and community housing, is the shared responsibility of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments.”
  • “Labor will work with the states, territory and local governments and industry stakeholders to help Australians who rent to have access to more secure, affordable, quality, long term housing.”
  • “Labor will work with the state, territory and local governments, local organisations and the private sector to reduce homelessness and support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.”

The party’s national conference will be held at the Brisbane Convention Centre from August 17 to 19.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.