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Granite Benchtop Grants will worsen the homelessness crisis

Media Release
Adam Bandt 4 Jun 2020

The Greens have responded to the Morrison government’s ‘granite benchtop grant’ announcement today, saying its HomeBuilder scheme will use public money for private benefit and potentially make the homelessness crisis worse.

“Public money should be used to create construction jobs and tackle homelessness by building public housing, not to lift house values for people who can already afford large renovations,” said Greens Leader, Adam Bandt.

“We should build homes for the hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless or on public housing waiting lists, not hand out granite benchtop grants.

“More than a million people are in housing stress, about to default on their mortgage, or on public housing waiting lists, but Scott Morrison is using public money to make the problem worse.

“Everyone deserves the dignity of a safe and secure home. However, this package will make that a more distant goal for millions of people. It will make housing inequality worse in Australia.

“Through this scheme, a couple on $200k a year with no mortgage could turn their $1.4m home into a $2m+ mansion. Meanwhile, a single parent on the public housing waitlist will see the median house price drift further out of reach. 

“Over 116,000 people face sleeping rough each night, but instead putting a roof over their heads,, Scott Morrison has decided to hand out granite benchtop grants to people with incomes and wealth high enough to weather the corona crisis.

“Perversely, Labor’s saying the grants are too restrictive and don’t allow people to upgrade their swimming pools. Instead of backing big government investment in public housing, Labor is calling for the superannuation industry to build homes, which will do little to address the growing public housing waiting lists.

“If Labor’s only contribution to fixing this appalling policy is to secure the inclusion of lap pool grants, they will have comprehensively abandoned working class people in Australia.”

Australian Greens Housing spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi said:

“It is absolutely obscene to  hand out public money to people who least need it for big home renos at a time when we’re looking at millions of people coming out of this pandemic in severe rental and mortgage stress. But then this heartless government only cares about the big end of town. 

“Given the shameful lack of opposition from Labor on these handouts of public money to the rich, it’s clear the Greens are the only real opposition to this government’s agenda of widening the gap of inequality in housing.

“Labor’s backing of the government’s expensive home renovation grants is disgraceful. 

“Instead of throwing away public money so people can add fancy benchtops and bath tubs, government investment in building new public and community housing will provide affordable homes to those who need them most and create thousands of jobs across the country. 

“As we emerge from the pandemic we should be doing everything we can to make sure everyone has a roof over their head. Australia is in desperate need of more public and community housing. That’s where we should be investing, not wasting public money for expensive home renovations,” she said.


For background:

Announced in March, the Greens policy for a construction-led recovery involves building half a million public housing homes over the next 15 years, which would create 40,000 jobs and 4,000 apprenticeships.

While Labor have not announced an alternative policy, they have suggested the superannuation sector step in to construct community housing. Contrary to some reporting, they have not called for direct government spending on public housing.

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