The Greens are staring down Anthony Albanese’s threats to take Australia to a double-dissolution election, heaping pressure on Labor to act on housing.
The minor party has written a letter to the Prime Minister renewing its demands for more to be done on housing as the cost of living crisis continues to hurt many Australians.
The letter includes demands such as a two-year freeze on rent increases, introducing a cap on rent increases following any rent freeze, attaching rent control to properties and ending no-grounds evictions among other things.
In return for Labor committing to rent regulations as well as an annual spend of $2.5bn on public housing, the Greens would support the passage of the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill through the Senate, where the government does not have a majority.
Mr Albanese says the HAFF bill will be introduced into the lower house next week when parliament resumes. It’s expected to be passed before moving to the Senate, where the government does not have a majority.
If the legislation is rejected for the second time in three months, it will fulfil the requirements for a double dissolution, giving Labor the chance to call an early election.
Mr Albanese has not ruled out a double-dissolution election in 2024, despite saying he does not “anticipate” that Australians will head to the polls by the end of the year.
“Well, they won’t be going to the polls this year but we’re determined to get this legislation passed – we want it to be passed,” he said on Friday.
Labor is facing its own crisis in parliament over the $10bn housing policy that has already failed once in the upper house, with the Greens and Coalition teaming up to block its passage.
The Greens have slammed Mr Albanese’s decision to push the bill through parliament again, saying they are “rapidly forming the view that Labor is more interested in getting a double dissolution trigger than acting on the housing and rental crisis”.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, the Greens say they are “ready to support the passage of the Bill through the Senate” if the government commits to their demands.
“Your government’s housing plan, as it stands, will see the housing crisis get much worse, locking in catastrophic failure, however, the Greens stand ready to negotiate a plan that will start to tackle the scale of the crisis,” the letter read.
Renters across Australia are facing a housing crisis with figures released this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing that rents have had their steepest increase in over three decades.
The figures show that rents have increased by 2.5 per cent in just three months, the largest quarterly increase in 35 years, and 6.7 per cent annually, the largest yearly rise since 2009.