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Chalmers to spruik super fund housing plan at treasurers’ meeting

An Albanese Government plan to entice super funds to invest in affordable housing will be the top item for discussion at the meeting of federal and state treasurers on Friday.

Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers said increasing housing stock was a “high priority”, ahead of the Council of Federal Financial Relations meeting.

The virtual meeting of federal and state treasurers is the second since the Albanese government came to power and comes after last week’s Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra.

“Clearer ways forward are emerging on a number of fronts since the summit, which I will discuss with the states,” Dr Chalmers said.

“We believe there’s a way to partner with our major super funds to invest in our national priorities including more affordable housing, which we know is a high priority after a decade of neglect from the previous government.”

Under the federal government’s plan, $575 million would be unlocked from the National Housing Infrastructure Facility (NHIF) to encourage super funds and other institutional investors to invest in affordable housing.

The government hopes the move will improve the risk-reward ratio for super funds and address the growing shortfall of affordable housing across the country.

“We want to build on the momentum that came out of the Jobs and Skills Summit, where there was broad agreement for closer partnerships in areas like skills and housing,” Dr Chalmers said.

“The most important thing is to get started.”

Also to be discussed at Friday’s treasurers’ meeting is the fiscal positions of the Commonwealth and states as they emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Treasurers are expected to discuss looming budget pressures from sectors such as health, ageing and disability support, as well as women’s economic participation and security.

The federal government also wants to use the meeting to nail down a work plan for future reforms in areas including productivity, climate, skills, health, migration and population.

“It’s more important than ever for all levels of government to come together around some of the big economic and budgetary pressures that all of us are facing,” Dr Chalmers said.

“I was really encouraged by the collegiality and common purpose from our first meeting and I want us to continue how we began.”

GDP figures released on Wednesday showed the economy grew almost 1 per cent in the June quarter, comfortably in line with forecasts.

But the cash rate has risen by 150-basis points since then, with inflation still climbing.

Dr Chalmers said October’s federal budget would prioritise cost of living relief “in a way that’s responsible and has an economic dividend”.

“I think Australians understand that there’s a lot of debt in the budget, and that we will do what we can for them. But we do that within the constraints of responsible budget management,” he said on Thursday.

“Our economy grew relatively strongly, grew solidly in the June quarter and we’re pleased about that. But, we are clear-eyed, too, about the challenges in our economy.”

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