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Liberal MP Bridget Archer may back government’s affordable housing bill

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Liberal MP Bridget Archer has signalled she may break ranks and vote for the government’s $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund, potentially going against the Coalition’s stance once again.

In a speech to the House of Representatives this afternoon, Archer said there was a “social and affordable housing crisis in Tasmania” and her electorate of Bass, recounting stories of families living in tents and pregnant women having to couch surf with friends due to a lack of accommodation. She said a lack of affordable housing was having a wider impact on businesses, claiming some were struggling to find workers due to people moving away from urban centres.

The future fund would plan to build 30,000 affordable and social homes over the next five years.

“There is an acute need for [housing] to be built,” she said.

“How can I in good conscience say to them I commit to doing what I can to help them, then turn around and vote against a policy that, though flawed, may help.”

Bridget Archer says there is an affordable housing crisis in Tasmania, including Launceston, in her electorate of Bass.
Bridget Archer says there is an affordable housing crisis in Tasmania, including Launceston, in her electorate of Bass. Photograph: Sarah Rhodes/AAP

Archer didn’t say definitively that she would vote in favour of the bill, but gestured heavily to her openness to the proposal.

The Coalition opposition resolved to oppose the $10bn future fund this week, with shadow housing minister Michael Sukkar raising concerns about its impact on the budget.

Archer said she wanted to be “part of the solution” and believed that the government’s plan would actually build on housing reforms from the previous Coalition government.

“I can’t stand here as an elected representative and ignore their needs,” she said of needy people in her electorate.

Archer said she still had “many questions” and hoped the bill would be improved in the Senate, but that she didn’t want to “let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.

“I will act in good faith but I will be holding you to account,” she said of the bill.

Key events

Filters BETA

Chris Bowen then takes a dixer on the safeguard mechanism, just so he can say this on his shadow, Ted O’Brien:

The Shadow Minister issued a press release on certainty on 1 February. And he accused us and he said our energy intervention was disastrous. Then complained it was too late. He said we should have acted sooner.

So it was disastrous and too late and then said it was rushed.

So in one press release, Mr Speaker, it was bad, too soon, and too late.

I mean, they can’t get it – they can’t get certainty in one press release, Mr Speaker.

He made more since in Hiroshima where he said, Hiroshima, what can we learn from nuclear. It was the World’s worst Contiki tour promoting nuclear in Hiroshima…

Defending their policy certainty which is completely non-existent.

Sussan Ley is up next:

My question is to the Prime Minister: A Canstar consumer survey has found 59% of people cite the cost of grocery, rent, electricity, gas, interest rates, or petrol, as their number one concern for 2023. And after nine months in office, the Prime Minister doesn’t have a single policy to put downward pressure on interest rates. Why do Australian families always pay more under Labor?

Jim Chalmers is yelling something, but then again it would be more notable if he wasn’t yelling something.

Anthony Albanese:

I thank the member for her question. I’d say to her go and have a look at the evidence of the Reserve Bank Governor today or the head of treasury who spoke about the fact that our plans are actually making a difference.

To name just one…

(Angus Taylor is now yelling something)

Senator Canavan very helpfully asked the RBA Governor the following question today: Just on the energy side of things, how much is the disruption in energy flows resulting from the war in Ukraine contributed to inflation over the past year now? Almost. And the Governor said this – substantially. At one point, the price of petrol I think the annual rate was up 30%. It makes a big difference. And the sky-mie prices of gas and coal in Europe flowed through back into our domestic market. That’s been a first-order issue but hasn’t just been energy, it’s been food and a lot of the supply chains. It’s worked its way through. The more positive story here is we’re through the worst of that.

And for those opposite who are opposing positive plans like the National Reconstruction Fund where the Governor has also spoken about how supply chain issues were contributing to inflation, they’re standing in the way of solutions to these issues is just extraordinary.

The same opposition came when we brought forward our energy price relief plan to this Parliament in December. Those opposite..voted against $1.5 billion of relief that was designed in a way in partnership with the advice…

Ley has a point of order:

On relevance, Mr Speaker. The core part of the question went to interest rates and the Prime Minister hasn’t mentioned the core part of the question.

Milton Dick tells her there were many parts to the question.

Albanese:

Thanks, Mr Speaker. Because we know that there are inflationary pressures in the economy and that is what interest rates are related to inflation. There’s a relationship between the two. I would have thought that was pretty obvious and that is what the evidence today was there, that’s why we have put in place our three-part plan of relief, repair and restrain, making sure that we provide relief, that we provide repair through issues like splay chains and the skills crisis, and also that we have restraint when it comes to fiscal policy so that fiscal policies working in concert with monetary policy as well. That is the plan that we are putting forward, a plan that’s constructive, a plan that is positive, and those opposite have nothing to say except one word – no – to everything that is put forward.

Anthony Albanese once again refers to the Coalition as the “No-alition” which once again upsets Paul Fletcher.

Milton Dick:

I’ll just ask the prime minister to continue with his answer and not to refer to the Coalition [as anything] except the “Coalition.”

Albanese:

They’re certainly not the Yes-alition. They’re certainly not that.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Meanwhile, the head of the nuclear-powered submarine taskforce says they have already provided a report to the government recommending how to proceed with the planned nuclear-powered submarines.

In Defence estimates, the Coalition’s Simon Birmingham asked about the tasforce and whether it had reported in relation to the future nuclear-powered submarine capability.

Vice admiral Jonathan Mead replied at first:

The taskforce has worked with our partners and we have provided continual updates to government on the nuclear-powered submarine program, including the optimal pathway.

Birmingham:

So you have provided a recommendation or report regarding the optimal pathway?

Mead:

We have.

Birmingham:

When was that provided to government?

Mead:

Earlier this year.

(He doesn’t clarify the date, so that could mean any time after 1 January.)

Industry minister Ed Husic takes a dixer on the national reconstruction fund and takes the opportunity to include:

We listened to the shadow minister’s [Sussan Ley] response to the legislation, the shadow minister apparently took umbrage I wore black ties. I mean I bust out the black tie twice a year and a Kardashian. Apparently, I was also accused of being ambitious! I was accused of being ambitious.

Have you looked around? This is not exactly Australia’s pre-eminent greenhouse for shrinking violets. There’s a few ambitious people around.

I am begging all Australian politicians to please update their popular culture references. For the good of the nation.

Andrew Hastie then has the next question and he doesn’t seem particularly thrilled:

At 4.01pm, there was [photos on social media of the prime minister and defence minister receiving the defence strategic review]. At 9.42pm last night, reports emerged in the media outlining recommendations contained in the DSR. Can the minister explain how highly classified information about Australia’s national security ended up in the Australian within a matter of hours?

Richard Marles seems genuinely annoyed:

Well, I thank the member for his question. It is not going to surprise members of this House that there is speculation around the defence strategic review. The only thing that you have read in the newspaper is that speculation.

Now the facts which are on the public record are the facts as I presented them in the answer to the previous question. And genuinely surprised me that on a matter as significant as this, the opposition would be sharing in the speculation of the press.

Defence minister Richard Marles takes a dixer on the defence strategic review, which the government received late on Tuesday, but will not release until it has been worked through (and classified things taken out, that sort of thing).

But Marles is laying the groundwork for the need for change, because the government was pretty sure of what was going to be in the review. I don’t think anyone is going to be shocked if it ends up recommending the need for nuclear powered submarines, for example.

Question time begins in earnest now.

It always gives me a little bit of whiplash when they move from bipartisan “we are united on this issue” to politics, but I guess that goes to the (amateur) theatre of it all.

Peter Dutton to Anthony Albanese:

My question is to the prime minister. I refer to the fact that over the last 30 years to 2022, the cash rate has been 1.3% points higher under Labor than under the Coalition.

Interest rates are always higher under Labor.

Under this prime minister there have been eight rate rises in eight consecutive meetings of the Reserve Bank of Australia board. (“No wonder there is such pressure on the Reserve Bank governor” is the interjection) When will the prime minister announce a plan to deal with the rising inflation problem in this country which is fuelling higher interest rates? Why do Australian families always pay more under Labor?

Albanese:

Well, I’m asked a very broad-ranging question by the leader of the opposition about the history of the interest rates. I can inform the leader of the opposition that I have done a bit of research about the history of interest rates.

So I can inform him … notwithstanding the leader of the opposition’s interest in my university essays I can provide more for him later today.

But I remember back in …

I remember back in 2004 when the Howard government slogan at the election was, “Keeping interest rates low.”

I remember that.

I remember that well.

But then, of course, they made the fatal mistake of appointing the member opposite as the assistant treasurer in 2006. Now, at that time, the cash rate was 5.5% when he was appointed. But then the Reserve Bank met, 3 May 2006, up 0.25%. 2 August 2006 – up 0. 25%.

8 November 2006 – you guessed it – up 0. 25%. 8 August 2007 – do you think it went up or down? Hands up who think it went up. Hands up who think it went down? You’re right!

And then there’s more. On 7 November 2007 …

Up or down. Hands up who think it went up. Anyone think it went down? Nah! Nah!

6.75%. Today the rate is 3.35%

Is 6.75 higher or lower than 3.75. Sounds higher to me. Sounds higher to me.

There were plenty of interjections during all of that, but honestly, none of us have time for that today.

Liberal MP Bridget Archer may back government’s affordable housing bill

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Liberal MP Bridget Archer has signalled she may break ranks and vote for the government’s $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund, potentially going against the Coalition’s stance once again.

In a speech to the House of Representatives this afternoon, Archer said there was a “social and affordable housing crisis in Tasmania” and her electorate of Bass, recounting stories of families living in tents and pregnant women having to couch surf with friends due to a lack of accommodation. She said a lack of affordable housing was having a wider impact on businesses, claiming some were struggling to find workers due to people moving away from urban centres.

The future fund would plan to build 30,000 affordable and social homes over the next five years.

“There is an acute need for [housing] to be built,” she said.

“How can I in good conscience say to them I commit to doing what I can to help them, then turn around and vote against a policy that, though flawed, may help.”

Bridget Archer says there is an affordable housing crisis in Tasmania, including Launceston, in her electorate of Bass.
Bridget Archer says there is an affordable housing crisis in Tasmania, including Launceston, in her electorate of Bass. Photograph: Sarah Rhodes/AAP

Archer didn’t say definitively that she would vote in favour of the bill, but gestured heavily to her openness to the proposal.

The Coalition opposition resolved to oppose the $10bn future fund this week, with shadow housing minister Michael Sukkar raising concerns about its impact on the budget.

Archer said she wanted to be “part of the solution” and believed that the government’s plan would actually build on housing reforms from the previous Coalition government.

“I can’t stand here as an elected representative and ignore their needs,” she said of needy people in her electorate.

Archer said she still had “many questions” and hoped the bill would be improved in the Senate, but that she didn’t want to “let the perfect be the enemy of the good”.

“I will act in good faith but I will be holding you to account,” she said of the bill.

Daniel Hurst

Daniel Hurst

Just on those opening comments Amy has reported, Anthony Albanese was referring to the security agreement signed during Penny Wong’s visit to Vanuatu in December.

The agreement is expected to deepen cooperation between the two countries on a range of security areas, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, maritime and aviation safety and security, policing, defence and border security. It puts climate at the centre of security issues in the region.

The Australian government says the deal “recognises that our security cooperation must continue to adapt, including to better address the implications of climate change, to help manage the human security effects of Covid-19, and to meet shared challenges”.

You can read about that here:



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