Housing fund to pass as fight for renter rights goes on

Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS

A $10 billion national housing investment fund is being touted as life-changing as it teeters on the edge of passing parliament following months of tense negotiations.

Amendments to the Housing Australia Future Fund were ticked off in the Senate on Wednesday but need to pass the lower house before it can become law.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the money would have a real impact on vulnerable Australians.

"Too many women and their kids spend a night in the car, in the park, in someone else's home, swapping from home to home as they struggle to escape domestic violence, which remains a scourge in this country," he told parliament on Wednesday.

"This will make a difference."

The fund will leverage $10 billion and use the interest to fund 30,000 social and affordable homes over five years.

The Greens signed up to support the fund after the government agreed to set aside an extra $1 billion for the National Housing Infrastructure Facility on top of $2 billion previously promised.

The government has committed to spend a minimum of $500 million on social and affordable housing each year as part of the deal with the Greens but the minor party failed in its bid to get the government to freeze and cap rents.

Leader Adam Bandt said the Greens would continue to push the issue and take it to the next federal election.

"The fight will continue, renters are in crisis," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"At some point, the penny has to drop with the government that renters need some breathing space, they need a rent freeze to allow incomes to catch up with the soaring rents."

The coalition remains opposed to the fund, arguing it will be inflationary and fail to address the problem.

Liberal frontbencher Anne Ruston said deals with the Greens had already tacked on billions of extra dollars and questioned where the minimum $500 million would come from if the investment fund made a loss in any given year.

"We have seen a 30 per cent blowout in the cost of this fund," she said, referring to all the concessions the government gave the Greens.

"This is just another classic example of a rushed headline policy that has not had the detail dealt with."

Assistant Minister Tim Ayres said the money would come from the fund but noted investment objectives aren't always met in any given year, which was why the spending floor for social housing was put in.

Senator Ayres said similar investment funds had provided "consistent and reliable annual disbursements".

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said it would also provide certainty to investors by providing a pipeline of projects and funding.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine King said significant planning reforms were needed to unlock the housing investment and every council and regional economic body had a role in making sure the homes were built.

Independent senator Lidia Thorpe said while she welcomed the extra funding commitment, the bill didn't do enough to address the Indigenous housing crisis.