The Project host's feisty on-air clash with MP over rental freeze: 'It's mad'

·Lifestyle Editor
·5-min read

The Project host Steve Price has had a fiery clash with a Greens MP over a proposal to freeze property rental prices for two years.

The Greens are calling for a nationwide two-year rent freeze to allow incomes to catch up with surging prices as well as an ongoing policy to cap rent increases at two per cent every 24 months.

Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather told The Project on Thursday rent prices were "out of control" and they had increased seven times faster than wages since the pandemic began.

Host Hamish McDonald probed Mr Chandler-Mather as to whether the plan was "vaguely like socialism, possibly even communism", to which the MP said, "I wouldn't call it socialism or communism, I'd call it what is being done around the world and worked".

"It is not a crazy proposal ... I think it is a moderate proposal for what is a national crisis," he said.

Steve Price then quizzed Mr Chandler-Mather further about the proposal, saying "you call it moderate, I call it mad".

Steve Price hosting The Project.
Steve Price told the Greens MP his policy was 'mad'. Source: Channel 10

"What do you say to landlords who over the next two years are going to have an increase to their repayments, council rates are going up above inflation, repairs on any rental properties are going up, it's hard to get tradesmen – they're just expected to wear this increase in cost in no rent going up?

"They're going to bail on the market, they're going to sell their rental properties and you will collapse the real estate market – it's mad, mate," he said.

The MP hit back saying the rental market didn't collapse in Victoria during a six-month freeze in the pandemic when Mr Price interrupted saying, "I'm not sure you're right".

"I don't think they did freeze all rents for six months," he said.

Mr Chandler-Mather assured him there was a rental freeze, before he tried to use British Columbia, New York and Scotland as examples.

"Well we are not in British Columbia, New York or Scotland, we're in Australia," the host hit back.

"We've got a rental system that works, there are a lot of great landlords, there are even landlords who during Covid made the rent cheaper for people because they wanted to look after good tenants. You're trying to blow up a system that actually works."

The early 30s MP then said Mr Price should go and speak to the 2.7 million renters in severe rental stress and ask them if the housing market is working.

"We are not suggesting that renters don't pay any rent for the next two years, but in the last two months rents have gone up by 17 per cent. All we are saying is we freeze it at that rate for the next two years," the MP said.

"So if the landlord has increased their rent from $450 to $550 a week, as an example, they still get to charge $550 every week for the next two years. We're just saying we don't want any more increases so wages have a chance to catch up."

Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather appearing in an interview on The Project.
Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather defended his party's policy to freeze rent prices for two years. Source: Channel 10

Mr Price interrupted the MP again: "You're saying more than that".

"You are saying that you are going to cap rental increases at 2 per cent every second year for 24 months. That is your policy," he added as Mr Chandler-Mather tried to continue getting his point across.

"Yes, absolutely," the MP said.

"So you are going to put the Greens in charge of the real estate market of Australia. You are going to be a landlord. I don’t want you as a landlord,” Mr Price fired back.

The Project interview takes heated turn

As the clash became more feisty, Mr Chandler-Mather said: "I'm not sure you understand the concept of a landlord."

"The Federal Government wouldn't own every home, I see what you're trying to do here, you are trying to be a bit provocative," the MP said.

"No, no, you're setting the rents," Mr Price shot back.

"So you're a quasi-landlord made. Don’t you understand how the system works?"

Mr Chandler-Mather said prices were in some way regulated in a lot of sectors in the economy, including power bills.

"I find it bizarre that you think that any country in the world that has any sort of rent regulation is the government becoming the landlord for everyone," he said.

Host Peter Helliar then interjected and joked the MP was now getting rid of landlords and asked what was next on his hit list.

"For Pricey's sake please don't say golfers," he said.

"Leaf blowers would probably be high on my list," the MP joked.

"I've got a great leaf blower, it's really noisy," Steve Price added.

"I've sure you do," the MP responded.

Hamish McDonald wrapped up the interview and thanked the MP for being a "good sport" before Peter Helliar joked the MP and Pricey were "great mates" who caught up a climate change rallies.

"Pricey takes his leaf blower," Mr McDonald teased.

"I'll bring it in here if you don't shut up," he fired back.

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