The Australian Greens said today that the Abbott government's 2014 cuts to housing and homelessness will continue to drag down the nation's housing affordability unless they are reversed in the upcoming federal budget.
"Published today by the Social Progress Imperative, the Social Progress Index shows that Australia is ranked 51st out of 133 countries on housing affordability. This is an indictment on Tony Abbott and his government's cruelty," Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens housing spokesperson said today.
"Renters, first homebuyers, people on low and median incomes, seniors and homeless Australians are all being severely affected by the national housing affordability crisis we currently face.
"Tony Abbott is presiding over a government that has actively worsened this situation through wholesale cuts to affordable housing programs of $589.2 million in the 2014 budget, while at the same time giving a free ride to big business and big polluters.
"A lack of housing affordability is a key driver for a range of negative outcomes, including a lack of employment, domestic violence and poor physical or mental health. The outcomes for children and young people are significant.
"Australia's position on this measure of the Social Progress Index is a cause for international shame. Tony Abbott needs to ensure the May budget fully reverses the cuts made last year and he needs to make substantive investments to address our housing crisis," Senator Ludlam concluded.
The 2014 Budget included cuts to:
- First Home Saver Accounts scheme saving $134 million over five years axed, making it harder for young people to save for their first home
- National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) program including the remaining 12,000 new rental homes, worth $235.2 million
- $44m capital funding from the National Partnership on Homeless to build new homelessness shelters and emergency accommodation
- $3 million homelessness research strategy funding
- A new program to sell off "surplus" commonwealth property with no criteria for affordable housing introduced
- Housing Help for Seniors pilot program worth $173 m
In addition, the following were also axed:
- National Housing Supply Council
- Major Cities unit
- COAG Housing Reform Council
- Prime Minister's Council on Homelessness
- $21m grants program for housing affordability solutions
- National Peak bodies National Shelter, Homelessness Australia and Community Housing Federation of Australia