Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, alongside Labor MPs in Macnamara, Higgins, Wills, Cooper and Richmond will be targeted in a fresh electoral assault by the Greens in the lead-up to the 2025 poll.
Off the back of a rousing victory in their fight to amend Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s signature housing funding bill, the minor party is vowing to continue fighting on the hot-button issue of rental rights in an attempt to win over the growing demographic of renters in marginal Labor-held seats.
In a speech to the party faithful in Victoria on Saturday, national Greens leader Adam Bandt will accuse the Labor government of acting as the “political arm of the property and real estate industry”, and single out the target seats in the party’s 2025 electoral strategy.
“It has become clear Labor doesn’t care about renters. Labor has refused to cap and freeze rents, despite rents around the country rising over 20 per cent in places, ” Mr Bandt will say.
“Now we’re preparing to campaign in the seats with the highest numbers of renters.
“We will make sure every voter in these electorates knows that the policy of the Labor Party, at state and federal levels, is unlimited rent increases.”
The Victorian seat of Macnamara, which is held by Labor MP Josh Burns but was almost clinched by the Greens in a three-way contest at last year’s federal poll, will again be a key target seat for the minor party. Roughly 40 per cent of voters in the seat live in a rental property.
The seat of Sydney, which is held by Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek, will also be a target for Greens campaigning, as they attempt to win over the 52 per cent of voters who rent.
However, the Prime Minister’s own seat of Grayndler, where 41.1 per cent of residents were renting as of the 2021 Census, will not be expressly named in Mr Bandt’s address.
Housing policy has become a growing political flashpoint, with the Greens accusing the federal government of failing to protect tenants from soaring rental costs.
Recently released data from the Bureau of Statistics shows that rental costs soared by 7.6 per cent in the 12 months to July. A record low in vacancies is only worsening the issue.
The Greens’ warning follows the passage of the $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) through the parliament earlier this week after the party secured an additional $1bn sweetener in immediate funding for public housing to end their Senate blockade.
The HAFF is designed to build 30,000 social and affordable houses, with a minimum of $500 million spent annually.
While the Greens’ dropped its key demand for the federal government to play a co-ordinating role in establishing rental caps and freezes among state and territory governments, the party will vow to continue campaigning for the changes up to the 2025 poll.
“If Labor decides to go to the next election with a policy of unlimited rent increases, they will not be rewarded,” Mr Bandt will say.
“If Labor decides that the one-third of this country who rents don’t matter, they will be punished at the ballot box.”
Labor opposes the implementation of rental caps and freezes due to concerns they would reduce rental stock, as well as opposition from state and territory governments, who are responsible for tenancy laws.
The Greens have already named comedian Mandy Nolan as the party’s candidate for the northern NSW electorate of Richmond, currently held by Labor’s Justine Elliott.
At a property summit in Sydney earlier this week, federal Housing Minister Julie Collins flagged the government’s focus would now turn to considering reforms to encourage more build-to-rent projects to get off the ground.
Discussions are set to begin next month at the next meeting of federal, state and territory housing ministers at the Housing and Homelessness Ministerial Council.