MP calls on government to legislate housing as human right


Aussie Labor member for Macnamara Josh Burns argued for housing as a human right in a report authored in a Labor-aligned think-tank

One Federal MP in Australia has called on the government to legislate housing as a human right to help alleviate housing inequality and homelessness.

Labor member for Macnamara Josh Burns argued for housing as a human right in a report authored in a Labor-aligned think-tank, the McKell Institute.

While some argue a codified right to housing is merely a symbolic gesture, the report says it would force the government to “accept a legal responsibility to address homelessness.” A legally enforceable human right to housing would help to address the immediate need for crisis accommodation, the report said.

Mr Burns meanwhile said too many Australians don’t have a place to call home. The truth is that before coronavirus, Australia had a serious shortage in housing – especially affordable and social housing. We know that a house is bigger than its four walls – it gives each Australian a stake in the collective success of our economy.

This pandemic has exacerbated the struggles of housing affordability for too many Australians. For the Australians who are locked out of home ownership we need to do more, he said.

Mr Burns said that the right to housing “is not radical” as other countries already have such a right, like France and Scotland. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Australia is a signatory, recognises the right to adequate housing.

And through the accompanying shift in policy perspective, Government could begin the long journey down the path of dismantling the structural inequities which have created this mess, he said. In doing so, we would see both the community-wide benefit of helping individuals, and the long-term benefit of a healthier and fairer housing market.

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