Australian Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has promised a $10 billion (US$7.7 billion) housing fund to build 30,000 social and affordable housing as part of Labor’s response to the 2021 Budget.
In his Budget reply speech, Albanese said the Labor Party was committed to lifting wages, fixing age care, addressing the housing crisis, championing equality for women, and more.
“What a missed opportunity if our economy comes out the other side with nothing to show for this transformational moment but the biggest debt and deficit of all time,” Albanese said.
He attacked the Tuesday budget for merely showing “the sorry tale of 8 years of Liberal neglect” and presenting a trillion-dollar debt plan.
He then pledged to establish a Housing Australia Future Fund to build houses and create jobs.
“Over the first five years, this will build around 20,000 social housing properties, places like the home I grew up in,” Albanese said, adding that another 10,000 affordable housing would be constructed for frontline workers.
Of the 20,000 social houses, 4000 will be allocated to women and children experiencing domestic abuse or low-income elderly women.
However, Albanese did not mention how a Labor government, if elected, would approach fiscal repair for the growing level of national debt or the party’s stance on committing to stage three tax cuts.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton accused Albanese of hypocrisy and called the speech a “political pitch,” half of which was spent on “bagging the Prime Minister.”
“I think as much as anything, it was a pitch to his backbench because his leadership is still not certain, and he complained in the budget that there was too much spending, the debt is too high,” Dutton told Nine. “Then he turned around and spoke about how he was going to spend more money.”
Property Council of Australia welcomed the housing fund commitment but said the speech was a “missed opportunity” for Labor to rule out changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax.
“We need greater supply across the entire housing spectrum, and this investment would certainly be welcome by the industry,” Property Council of Australia CEO Ken Morrison said. “[However], changing current negative gearing or CGT arrangements would be the wrong policy, at the wrong time and have a perverse impact on housing affordability.”