*Opinion piece published in The Mercury on 7th June 2023
Tell Nick McKim and Peter Whish-Wilson to back in their state over their party.
The fate of 1200 homes for Tasmania rests in the hands of two people: Greens Senators Nick McKim and Peter Whish-Wilson.
When we go back to Canberra next week, the Housing Australia Future Fund will be on the table again.
The only thing standing in the way of it passing right now is the Greens. If they vote yes, Tasmania is guaranteed enough homes to see homelessness going backwards. If they vote no, we get nothing.
Not 1200 homes. Not 600 homes. If the Greens don’t support this bill, we’ll get zero homes.
It’s estimated there’ll be 1100 new people homeless in Tasmania in the next five years. 1200 homes would start to see us getting on top of the problem, not just continuing to get worse. We’ve never been able to say that in Tasmania before. It’s a big deal.
The Greens say they’re negotiating so that the bill will do more for renters, more for first home buyers, more for homelessness and more for housing affordability. That all sounds good, in theory. There’s a lot of people doing it really tough out there. There’s tents popping up in parks across Tassie. No one wants to see that getting worse.
But if the Greens don’t pass this bill, they won’t be helping any of these people. You don’t help a housing crisis by voting against building more houses.
It’s not unusual to see Senators vote with the party line instead of voting for the people they’re supposed to represent. It’s one of the reasons I put my hand up for the Senate - I want to see politicians putting people before politics.
And this legislation will be the biggest test of all for Nick McKim and Peter Whish-Wilson. If their party demands they vote no, will they back in their state over their party?
The Greens say the 1200 homes over five years that I’ve secured isn’t guaranteed. But they know full well this promise is in the legislation and it’s in the budget. These houses will be built. But only if the Housing Australia Future Fund passes.
We can’t afford to waste anymore time. We need to act now. The longer we delay, the longer the housing waiting list gets.
The Greens are right to say we’re in a housing crisis. And in a crisis, it’s hard to know the right thing to do. But when the choice is 1200 homes or nothing, it’s not really a choice at all.
Nick and Pete, do the right thing for Tasmanians. Back in 1200 homes. We can’t end up with nothing.