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Government urged to save NRAS

By Stefanie Garber
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While the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) has come under fire recently by the federal government, a property industry body has defended the program.

Social services minister Kevin Andrews vowed to crack down on rorts in the NRAS after revelations that international students were benefiting from the low-cost housing scheme.

“My department has been looking at these issues and as soon as we can get to a situation where we can make some changes to it then we would do so with any further rollout of NRAS,” Mr Andrews told ABC NewsRadio last month.

However, Property Council executive director Nick Proud today came to the program's defence, saying NRAS is a key solution to the housing shortage.

“NRAS has been an important driver in increasing housing supply across Australia,” Mr Proud said.

“Since it was established, NRAS has delivered 14,500 homes with allocations for a further 23,000 homes, as well as supporting Australia's housing construction industry through the global financial crisis.”

He said a lack of accessible housing was a major concern in Australia today.

“Australians consistently nominate housing affordability and supply as a top five issue and this is the one federal government program that aims to address Australia's housing shortage,” he said.

While recent controversies highlighted a flaw in NRAS, Mr Proud urged the government not to scrap the program altogether.

“What the recent criticisms of the program highlight is the need for the federal government to refine NRAS – but to scrap NRAS altogether would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” he said.

Last month, the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) also called on the Abbott government to recommit to the scheme.

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