Independent MPs push to make housing a human right

Access to housing would be recognised as a human right, with the federal government required to improve the country's supply, under a new proposal put to parliament.

Laws introduced on Monday as part of a joint push by independents David Pocock and Kylea Tink to solve the abiding crisis in housing would force governments to maintain a 10-year plan in line with mandated objectives.

The goals would be based around improving supply and affordability as well as ending homelessness, with the government required to take a human rights-based approach to solving issues with housing.

Under the proposal, a National Housing Consumer Council would be set up to advocate on behalf of tenants and prospective buyers.

A separate office would also be established to provide oversight of progress to the housing strategy.

Ms Tink said long-term planning was needed to address many of the issues involved in the housing sector.

"(The bill) provides a road map that puts human rights at the centre of all future federal housing policy, regardless of the government of the day," she told parliament on Monday.

"It repositions homes from being seen as assets and returns them to their rightful location as homes where families grow and people age."

Kylea Tink and David Pocock
Independent MP Kylea Tink and Senator David Pocock are leading the push for a new housing approach. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

The proposal has also been backed in an open letter to Housing Minister Julie Collins by more than 100 organisations and advocates, including former Liberal MP John Alexander, previous Labor senator Doug Cameron, and the chief executives of Mission Australia and the Australian Council of Social Service.

In the letter, supporters of the plan said a lack of national strategy had contributed to mounting issues in the housing sector.

"Australia's housing system is badly in need of fundamental long-term reforms as well as short-term relief," the letter said.

"While the government's commitment to develop such a plan is welcome, it is essential that firmer foundations for the enterprise are established."

Independent policitians at a press conference
The independents' plan has been backed by dozens of organisations and advocates. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Senator Pocock said housing remained among the biggest issues faced in Australia, and certainty was needed to address it.

"(People) want this treated more as a human right, as something that enables our communities to function that allows people to have a safe place to live rather than as an investment vehicle," he told reporters.

Independent MP Helen Haines, who is supporting the bill, said the human-rights approach would also provide multiple benefits to addressing homelessness.

"We consider a basic human right having access to health care, having access to education, we consider it a human right to feel safe, but nobody feels safe when they're sleeping rough. Nobody has good health when they're couch surfing," she said.

"Nobody has good health when they're looking at their family budget and thinking that within the next month or two, they could be on the street. The anxiety and the physical safety aspects of having insecure housing is profound and it's a growing puzzle."