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‘Hypocrisy’: Greens lashed over housing Bill

Written by on June 28, 2024

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has taken aim at the Greens after the minor party teamed up with the Coalition in the Senate to kybosh legislation designed to entice property investors to construct more build-to-rent properties.

Speaking during question time on Thursday, Dr Chalmers accused the Greens of stopping the construction of tens of thousands of rental properties designed to fix Australia’s housing supply woes.

“If the Greens political party really cared about building for homes, they would have voted for the tax break that would have built tens of thousands of homes for people to rent,” Dr Chalmers said.

“This is the hypocrisy at the very, very core of the Greens political party and they keep teaming up with the conservatives in the Senate and in the House of Representatives to prevent this country building more houses that our people desperately need.”

Dr Chalmers accused the minor party of failing “to give a stuff” about those squeezed by the lack of affordable housing, and waging a “ridiculous, underhanded, hypocritical” campaign against Labor’s housing policy.

“Mr Speaker, if the member for Griffith (Max Chandler-Mather) and his Green colleagues really cared about homelessness, if they really cared about rental pressures, they would vote with the Labor government to build more properties in this country for people to rent,” he said.

“They are much, much more interested in finding Labor in the inner cities than they are (in) fighting for more homes for young people and the homeless.”

The Greens and the Coalition voted together to split Build To Rent from the housing Bill, which will now go to separate Senate inquiries.

No mention of Assange

No mention was made of the return of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during question time, despite him dominating headlines for two days.

The 52-year-old flew in Canberra on Wednesday night after concluding a plea deal with the US by pleading guilty to an espionage charge.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese held a press conference shortly after and telephoned Mr Assange.

Mr Albanese tweeted a picture of himself on the phone with the caption: “Earlier tonight I was pleased to speak with Julian Assange to welcome him home to his family in Australia. His arrival home ends a long-running legal process. I want to express my appreciation to the United States and the United Kingdom for their efforts in making this possible.”

Mr Assange’s wife Stella and lawyers did the rounds of the media in Parliament House and were in the public gallery during question time on Thursday, but there’s been no sign of Mr Assange since he walked off a private plane.

And there was no acknowledgement of his return in parliament, with the Opposition raising concerns about the appropriateness of Mr Albanese’s phone call.

‘Right way:’ Wong’s warning to rogue senator

The Albanese government’s senate leader has cautioned government members to follow caucus rules after Fatima Payman became the first Labor member to cross the floor in 18 years.

The first term Western Australian senator broke ranks and sided with the Greens on a motion to recognise the state of Palestine.

In doing so, she broke Labor’s requirement for caucus members to vote in line with the party’s stand on policy.

While Senator Payman has avoided potential expulsion, the government’s leader in the Senate Penny Wong said she understood why “caucus members are feeling upset”.

Senator Wong, who was Australia’s first openly gay cabinet minister, notably toed the party line against same-sex marriage before it was finally legislated in 2017.

She voted against Bills attempting to legalise it in 2008 and 2010, and sided with the ALP’s stance that marriage was an institution between a man and a woman.

Reflecting on the time, Senator Wong said it was important the Labor caucus stood together as a “collective”.

“There’s a lot of personal commitments that we bring as members of the Labor Party and as members and senators elected on the Labor ticket, a personal commitment to the collective,” she said, speaking to the ABC.

“We stand together, and that is why it’s not just a matter of rules. It’s a matter of what we believe, even when we disagree.”

Senator Wong said it was more appropriate for members to “have those arguments internally,” adding that was what happened “over many years” during the marriage equality debate.

“That’s what I did. And I think that’s the right way to go about it,” she said.

However she said she understood it had been a “difficult” time for the junior Senator.

Speaking to reporters after she crossed the floor, Senator Payman said the was the “most difficult decision” she’s had to make, and maintained she still had the “core values of the Labor Party”, and wanted to “continue serving in the Labor Party”.

Although she won’t be expelled, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has suspended from federal Labor’s caucus meeting next Tuesday.

‘Great risk, cost’: Albo’s nuclear warning

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has used his speech at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) to rally against Opposition Leader Peter Dutton’s nuclear reactor plan.

He warned that not pursuing renewables would drive up energy prices and shatter industry confidence, which he said was the “true cost of nuclear power in Australia”.

“Not just the hundreds of billions of dollars in the cost of constructing the reactors more than a decade away,” he said.

“Not just the price households and businesses would pay for energy that is eight times more expensive than renewables.

“But the danger that another decade of denial prevents the action on climate and investment in energy we need now.”

The Prime Minister said nuclear power could not be “deployed as just another weapon in the culture wars,” and warned Australia had no “time to waste” in establishing itself as a leader in renewable energy.

“Australia has every resource imaginable to succeed in this decisive decade,” he said.

“Critical minerals, rare earths, skills and space and sunlight, the trade ties to our region.

“The only thing our nation does not have is time to waste.”

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Mr Dutton later at the same event defended the Coalition’s energy policy, saying renewables are part of the mix.

“We’re huge supporters of renewable energy. It needs to be in the system,” he said.

“But we have to stop pretending it can work 24/7.”