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Housing commitments front and centre at national cabinet

By Juliet Helmke
16 August 2023 | 13 minute read
Anthony Albanese 3 reb

Following the national cabinet meeting of state and territory leaders, the Prime Minister stated the group has agreed on a number of collective measures to address housing pressures.

The cabinet agreed to a “national planning reform blueprint” that will assist with “planning zoning land release and other other measures to improve housing supply and affordability”, according to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who spoke to press following the meeting.

They also agreed to a plan called “A Better Deal for Renters”, that intends to “harmonise and strengthen renters’ rights across Australia”.


This will see states and territories develop a nationally consistent policy to implement a requirement for genuine reasonable grounds for eviction; move towards limiting rent increases to once a year; and phasing in minimum rental standards.

The Prime Minister said that leaders had been able to unite on agreeing that “supply is key” in addressing the issues the country currently faces on housing, including the rapidly rising cost of rent.

To that end, state and territory leaders also signed on to a new national building target above the 1 million homes agreed to last year in the National Housing Accord. The new target is 1.2 million “well-located homes over five years” beginning from 1 July 2024.

To incentivise the building of these dwellings, the Commonwealth has committed $3 billion to a “New Home Bonus,” which will be apportioned to states and territories that achieve more than their share of the 1 million well-located home target under the National Housing Accord.

The new target will also be supported by the Housing Support Program, a $500 million funding program for local and state governments to kickstart housing supply in well-located areas through targeted activation payments for things like connecting essential services, amenities to support new housing development, or building planning capability.

Prior to the meeting, there was discussion about whether the cabinet would take up the issue of so-called “rent caps”, with the Green party stalling a vote of the government’s hallmark housing policy until it felt the government included adequate measures for Australian renters.

Asked whether the government had done enough to entice the Greens to move, Mr Albanese said that the action taken today “shows how serious we are”, given that he was able to unite “state and territory governments across the political spectrum [with the] common understanding that supply is the key”.

Downward pressure on house prices, he emphasised, would ultimately bring the most relief to renters.

Pressed on the matter, he reiterated comments made earlier in the month that he would not be asking states and territories to adopt a national cap or freeze on rents.

“Different states have different jurisdictions with respect. They have different rules. Not every state has any restrictions at all … what we’re doing is moving towards greater national consistency and making a practical difference,” he said.

Ruling out the idea of a rent freeze, he said he believed such a policy would exacerbate the issue of low rental supply.

“The key to addressing these issues is supply and that’s why we have focused our attention on supply,” Mr Albanese said.

Being careful to be “practical about moving forward,” the Prime Minister emphasised that the task has “no simple one day, one week, one month solution”.

“My government is determined to fulfil our responsibility, as I care deeply about housing. The Housing Australia Future Fund was the centrepiece of my second budget reply. And … I will continue to argue that it should be supported,” he added.


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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