Anthony Albanese is holding firm on his threat to pull the double-dissolution trigger should his signature housing policy fail to secure support but says he’d rather not use it.
Labor will this week reintroduce the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) when parliament returns after a bitter stalemate with the Greens twice stalled the $10bn fund in the Senate.
The Prime Minister has previously said advice from the Solicitor-General, not released publicly, backed the view the Bill’s delay constituted a failure to pass the legislation.
Should the HAFF fail a third time within three months after it was first delayed, the government will have the option to call a double-dissolution election.
It means senator would be up for re-election with the House. The last double-dissolution election occurred when Malcolm Turnbull was prime minister in 2016.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Albanese said he’d rather not send the parliament to an early election.
“I just want this legislation to be passed,” he told ABC Radio Sydney
“(The Greens) spokesman (Max Chandler-Mather) put this in writing in an opinion piece in a magazine, essentially saying that if this is just waved through and happens we won’t be able to continue to door knock and campaign on it.
“Well, I don’t want to play politics with this – I want to get this done. We have a mandate for it, and the Senate should pass it.”
Labor went to the election promising to establish the fund and use the earnings to build 30,000 social and affordable homes over five years.
The Coalition rejected the off-budget fund from the outset.
Both Labor and the Greens have made concessions on the Bill since it was first introduced. Last month, the government announced it would immediately inject $2bn into social housing.
Meanwhile, the minor party halved its initial demand the government spend closer to $5bn each year to address the social housing shortfall to $2.5bn.
But Mr Chandler-Mather said he would not budge on his demand the government co-ordinate a nationwide freeze on rents, or caps, with the states.
“Of course in any negotiation we should be prepared to vote down a Bill if the government refuses to move,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“I would be very clear that the government is now reintroducing their Bill into the house unchanged and then threatening an election and what we’d like to see is us come together and work out a plan that actually starts to tackle the scale of the crisis.”
Rent controls are under consideration in Victoria but other states, including NSW, ruled out the suggestion.
Mr Albanese has previously indicated he would be happy to take the policy to the next election should the Greens not come to the table.