Mr HAMILTON (Groom) (11:24): What an outstanding contribution from the member for Sturt. I’m going to change what I was going to say because what he’s highlighted is this almost comical situation we find ourselves in. It’s like an episode of Seinfeld: this was a policy about nothing. It was a lot of sound and fury, with some things flashing up on the screen, and absolutely nothing happened until the intervention of the Greens. We saw this magnificent kabuki theatre—the Prime Minister snarling at the member for Griffith as he walked out, all the articles and all the hubris and the animosity that’s been thrown about—but of course any quarrel can be solved if enough money is thrown at it. It was $3 billion. That’s how much it cost the taxpayer to bring this lovers’ tiff to an end. But what a great episode of kabuki theatre it was.
I’ve got to give it to the Greens here. This is the greatest political play, and I think it’s been undersold. I want to go through just how great this political play by the Greens has been. The issue of housing supply in Australia is due to the deployment of Greens policies at a local government level: their continual refusal to allow developments for housing—for kids, like those sitting up in the gallery here, to grow up and buy one day—their absolute nimbyism and their rejection of anything. This was caught magnificently in the Courier Mail recently. In just the three electorates of our new Greens members in Brisbane, they have fought against the development of—you won’t believe this, Member for Deakin—1,900 apartments.
Mr Birrell: How many?
Mr HAMILTON: Of 1,900 apartments! The very people who come in here now and want to tell you how much they care about the housing crisis, who want to tell you about renters rights, are stopping the development of properties at a time when every CEO of every major bank will tell you the issue is critically low levels of housing supply. This is an amazing play by the Greens, and part of me sits back with admiration, saying, ‘How did you pull this off?’ This is brilliant. You caused the problem, and then you extracted $3 billion from the government as part of the solution. It’s a fantastic play by the Greens. Hats off to them. I mean, it’s sinister, it’s underhanded and it has hurt the Australian people—it’s particularly hurt younger Australians—but it has probably benefited the Greens. This is Labor’s attempt, right now, to try and fight back. That’s what this is. That’s what this housing policy is aimed at: to try and save a few Labor seats in these inner-city suburbs.
But we’ve gone through this before. The amendments do not change the fundamental problem with this bill. In fact, they make it worse. We have $10 billion that is borrowed at an estimated cost of $400 million a year. It will be invested, and, hopefully, returns on that investment will be above the $400 million, so that nothing can happen. You’ve got to get $400 million return just to get to that Seinfeld episode where nothing happens. That’s a fair amount. That’s a good day’s work to get to Seinfeld. Then, on top of that, the government has made a commitment now—this is the amendment we’re speaking to—of $500 million per year to be spent on housing.
You get to a certain level with figures, and they sound incredibly impressive. Gee, $500 million sounds like a lot of money. I’m going to go through this again. At an estimated cost—and I’m being generous—of $700,000 a property, that’s 714 homes. That’s less than half the number of homes that the Greens have blocked just in their three electorates, by the way. This is the signature, the key, the building block, the masterstroke around which Labor’s policy is built. It’s 714 homes.
Once again, Member for Deakin, you’ll forgive me for talking about how great Toowoomba is, because without a Housing Australia Future Fund, without $10 billion, without the genius of the entire Labor economics team, we were able to build 830 homes. We just did that because that’s what we felt like doing. We just got about our work. We didn’t need all of this money. We didn’t need all of this exaggeration. We’re just one country town, an hour and a half in from Brisbane—the most beautiful place in the entire world—and we managed to beat that.
Even with the $3 billion extracted by the Greens to solve the problem they caused, even with the commitment of $500 million, this remains a policy about nothing. All it’s going to do is hurt the Australian taxpayer.