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Lambie slams Greens move to block housing bill

Callan Morse -

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has launched an attack on the federal Greens after the party blocked the government’s Housing Australia Future Fund bill in the senate.

Speaking to Sky News Australia, Senator Lambie, a proud Palawa woman from Tasmania’s north-west coast, said she is becoming increasingly impatient with delays in the bill’s passing.

“I'm sick of hearing them cry like little babies,” Lambie said of the Greens.

“I'm sick of them (the Greens) bringing instability upon those who are already living in instability.” 

Tasmania is currently experiencing one of the state’s worst housing crisis in recent memory, with the Hobart rental market currently the most unaffordable in the country.

The median rent increase in the state’s capital has increased 50 per cent since 2016, with the state’s vacancy rate last year sitting at 0.3 per cent, well below the 3 per cent benchmark.

Recently released ABS statistics also paint a bleak picture in the state, suggesting the rate of homelessness increased 44.9 per cent in the five years to 2021 in Tasmania, the largest increase nationwide.

The Housing Australia Future Fund bill aimed to deliver 20,000 social housing homes, 4,000 of which to be allocated to women and children leaving or experiencing domestic and family violence and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness.

Senator Lambie said she was disgusted at blocking of the bill by the Coalition, Greens and others.

“For goodness sake, just tick off on it. Let's get these homes built,” she said.

“You have the biggest balance of power in this Parliament (out of) everyone and you can't do deals along the way to make sure that whatever you else you want with housing can't be done.

“They're supposed to … have the biggest social conscience so they claim up here in Parliament, and this is how they're treating those people who are living in tents that are in absolute despair.

“(They) just want a roof over their head so they've got safety and warmth for their own children.”

Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said Ms Lambie had been “conned” by Labor into supporting the bill which guaranteed a minimum of 1,200 social and affordable houses in each state and territory over five years.

Greens housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather said the party felt “compelled” to vote the bill down to make Labor take the nation’s housing crisis seriously.

"This is the worst housing crisis Australia has faced in a long time and it's quite important that we start to take this seriously," he told Sky News.

"We feel compelled to make them (Labor) ... negotiate properly to guarantee a package that actually starts to put roofs over people's heads.

“Bottom line, even if this bill passed today, we wouldn’t see a single home built probably until after the next federal election in 2025... that is not taking the crisis seriously.”

Labor senator Penny Wong criticised the Greens’ move to block the bill, suggesting the opinion of Greens MPs about the housing crisis was not being reflected accurately by Mr Chandler-Mather.

"I suspect … that there are those in your party and in your party room who are concerned about the way in which your spokesperson is handling this,” Ms Wong said.

“The question to the Greens is whether a person's ego matters more than the security of having a roof over your head.”


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