‘Ego’: Penny’s brutal attack on MP

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A stoush over the government’s signature housing package has boiled over after Penny Wong sensationally accused the Greens of caring more about their ego and media attention.

The Foreign Minister failed again in her push to ram through the vote for the Housing Australia Future Fund on Thursday after the minor party teamed up with the Coalition to thwart debate the day before.

The opposition has ruled out supporting the $10bn fund that the government says would build 30,000 affordable homes over the next five years, and the Greens say it does not go far enough.

Senator Wong accused the Greens, who hold the balance of power in the Senate, of teaming up with the Liberals to filibuster at the expense of women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Penny Wong fired up in the Senate over the fund. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanPenny Wong fired up in the Senate over the fund. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“The joint crossbench, including the Greens, came to the government with concerns and Minister (Julie) Collins negotiated in good faith to address every single concern,” she told the upper house.

“But you know what … your spokesman on housing (Max Chandler Mather) is now prioritising media attention (over) housing for women and kids fleeing domestic violence. That’s shameful you know, this man’s ego.”

Senator Nick McKim said the government leader in the Senate’s comments were “well out of order” and called for her to withdraw them, which Ms Wong did.

“She is clearly showing that Chandler Mather is right under the skin of the government,” he said.

The government has made some concessions to the crossbench to win over their vote, including agreeing to index the fund’s spending cap against inflation from 2029-30 rather than a hard $500m limit.

But the Greens maintain it does not go far enough and want the government to commit to more action to taming rising rental prices.

Greens leader Adam Bandt is against the policy. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin OllmanGreens leader Adam Bandt is against the policy. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

“The government is bringing a bucket of water to a house fire,” leader Adam Bandt told ABC’s RN prior to the Senate vote.

“The rental crisis will get worse over the next couple of years … We’re saying we’re prepared to work with you on your housing package, but it’s not enough to just have a tick-the-box approach.”

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie, who secured a minimum of 1200 social and affordable houses to be built in each state and territory over five years as part of a deal for her vote, was visibly emotional as she pleaded with the Greens to vote for the Bill.

“I know this is not perfect but people out there need a roof over their heads, so for goodness sakes, please can we just get a start on this? I don’t want to hold them back any further,” she said.

“So please, for you people over here that think you have a social conscience, do you really want to keep playing with people’s lives?

“This is something we can keep chipping away at. We can keep doing deals out and adding to it, so please can we just use the base here and get started today? No more on the politics, no more rubbish.”

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