Release type: Transcript


Interview - Sunrise


The Hon Jason Clare MP
Minister for Education

NATALIE BARR: The latest migration figures have revealed a record number of people from overseas are calling this country home, with more than 765,000 migrants arriving in the year to September 2023. 

That's put the spotlight on the Federal Government, which is under fire this morning from Western Sydney mayors over where to house the influx, with the region bearing the brunt of the new arrivals. 

For more we're joined by Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you. 


BARR: Jason, you are right there slam dunk in the middle of Western Sydney, you're the MP. These Western Sydney mayors are angry. How are you going to house all these people? 

CLARE: You've got to build more housing, Nat, that's the truth of it. That requires Federal Government working closely with State Governments, but working with local government too. I remember you've made this point to me on the show before, it's got to involve local government working with the Feds and the State as well. 

A big part of that is the $2 billion dollars that we've given to the States to fast‑track the building of houses that have already got DA approval. You've got to work with the private sector on this as well. 

On those numbers that came out yesterday, a big part of those migration numbers are students, international students that have come back to Australia after the pandemic, either to finish a degree or to start a degree. 

The forecasts show that migration is expected to go down over the next year or so. We want it to go down, but we've also got to build more houses. We've got to build more homes for Australians. 

BARR: I know you guys keep saying that and your promise, I think, your Government is to build 1.2 million new homes by 2028. This year I think my understanding is the forecast is for 180,000 homes to be built. 100,000 of those homes are just replacing the old ones and accounting for the natural population growth. That leaves you with about 80 and we've got like half a million people coming in. Doesn't seem to add up, how are you going to do that? 

CLARE: We've got to build more.

BARR: But how? 

CLARE: The only way you do it is if you get all three levels of government working together. You've got to get the private sector involved as well. I'd add universities to that as well. 

As I made the point a moment ago, a lot of the people that have come to Australia in the last 12 months or so are international students, so universities have got a role to play here as well to make sure that we're providing accommodation for students and making sure that accommodation for Aussie students is affordable as well. 

BARR: Sussan, what do you suggest here? Peter Dutton, you know, sat at that Jobs Summit in 2022 and said, "We want migration, we need more people".  Now we've got it how do we house them? 

SUSSAN LEY: Nat, I want to make clear this isn't about migration. It's not about migrants because migrants have made Australia the great country that it is. This is about the fact that the migration numbers and the building approvals are not matching up, as you've just said, and while we've got the Government saying that migration numbers will go to go down they've actually gone up 60 per cent, meanwhile we've got builders going bust. 

We've got Australians who can't afford their rent, who can't find a home to buy or live in. So there's this imbalance between the building that we talk about and the migration numbers that the Government doesn't seem to be able to monitor properly or bring down in the way that they said they would. 

So where is the plan here? That's the question. Where is the plan to actually support both Australians and the people who are coming in? Because our question to Anthony Albanese is where are all these people going to live? 

BARR: Yeah, exactly, because we don't need ‑ we don't just need houses, Jason, we need infrastructure. 

CLARE: That's very, very true. But the fact is if the Coalition was in power, you'd have higher migration and fewer houses. They forecast more migration and they've voted against in the Parliament the steps we've taken to build more housing. 

We need serious reform here to migration policy, not the sort of racist tweets that we've seen from the Coalition over the last few weeks. If you're serious about this the Liberal Party would be voting in the Parliament to help us to build more houses, not just putting out frivolous racist tweets. 

BARR: That's a pretty serious accusation. Sussan, what do you say to that? Because also this housing issue didn't just happen in the last 18 months, did it, Sussan? 

LEY: Well a lot of things have happened since Labor took over. 

BARR: But the housing shortage. 

LEY: Can I just say, Jason, I live in regional Australia. I value, respect and love the migrants who have come to this country and built so much of what we all live in and love today. But when I meet builders around the country who tell me they're going bust, when I meet builders who say it now costs 30 per cent more to build a house because of the Government's energy policies and the industrial relations policies and the cost‑of‑living that's going up, and we know that everyone is experiencing the same rise in the cost‑of‑living, then you know that the plan simply doesn't exist. 

So that's where you have to start. If we've got builders going bust we aren't going to have the people on the tools to build the houses. And if the Government says, you know, they often hark back to what we did and that's not really the point here. I can defend what we did by the way, but I want to look at what's happening now, and I want the Government to address what they're facing, which is a complete, you know, a complete lack of a plan. 

CLARE: Look, we've got legislation in the Parliament right now, Nat, that would help more Australians to buy their first home and the Liberal Party's voting against it. 

BARR: Okay. Look, we'll leave it there, we're out of time. We'll wish you a happy birthday, Jason. Thank you very much.

LEY: Happy birthday, Jason. 

CLARE: Thanks very much.