The Albanese government wants constitutional guidance on whether the Greens’ reluctance to pass the $10 billion social housing fund warrants a double dissolution election.
After the Greens and Coalition joined up in the Senate on Monday to delay discussing and voting on the bill until October 16, Anthony Albanese reminded caucus that the decision may precipitate an early full-Senate election.
The prime minister said the Greens’ unwillingness to support the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) despite multiple compromises was “juvenile, student politics” that needed to be exposed.
“Continually deferring a bill can be taken as a block, and we are seeking advice,” Mr Albanese told MPs.
Mr. Albanese said a nationwide rent freeze would reduce supply and worsen the crisis.
A double dissolution trigger occurs when the Senate fails to pass a bill twice within three months.
Mr Albanese said the government was seeking advice from the Commonwealth solicitor-general on whether it could keep the bill in the Senate and have the Greens fail to pass it again, or whether it would have to be withdrawn, reintroduced in the House of Representatives, and rejected again by the Greens.
Greens leader Adam Bandt downplayed the danger but did not say if he would welcome a housing election.
“If the government and Labor act on rising rents and out-of-control rent increases, this bill can pass the Senate when it comes back,” he added.
The Jacqui Lambie Network, David Pocock, and the housing business and needy housing organisations are encouraging the Greens to pass the measure.
I don’t see who wins by kicking this to October
“I think we should bank these wins and build new social and affordable housing our community so desperately needs across the country.”
A double dissolution is a full Senate election more than six months before the House of Representatives expires.
The government might go earlier than March 29, 2025. The earliest half-Senate election would be August 3, 2024.
The HAFF dispute has become a proxy for the Greens-Labor fight for inner-city seats with young tenants.
The administration claims the Greens are misleading tenants by promising an unattainable rent freeze.
Nationals senator Matt Canavan dared Mr Albanese to call a double dissolution.
If the administration wants a double dissolution, he said. I’m happy to combat this and other concerns.
“They’re making a big deal of the fact that… they say on their own numbers they want to build 6000 homes a year while they’re letting in 250,000-350,000 people. Perhaps we should slow migration.”