Lacklustre policies will do nothing for housing crisis

Opinion 2In trying to defend the Turnbull Government’s inadequate housing plan, the Assistant Treasurer is back to running the same excuses he did before the Budget. Mr Sukkar recently wrote that, “state, territory and local governments pull most of the levers that affect housing affordability” and that “there is simply not enough supply to keep up with demand”.

This narrow analysis will do nothing to get people into secure, affordable housing.

Mr Sukkar was far more bullish before the Budget, saying the government’s package would be ‘extraordinarily large’ and ‘it will be an impressive package, it will be a well-received package.’ Yet the Grattan Institute’s John Daley said “you’ll need a scanning electron microscope to see an impact on prices”.

Whether for home buyers or renters, people on middle or very low incomes, the government’s ‘centrepiece without a centrepiece’, as National Shelter called it, will make little or no difference to the housing crisis. In the case of their superannuation saver accounts, it will make it worse by pushing up prices.

The sad fact is that there was a housing affordability crisis before the Budget, and there will continue to be one while the Liberals are in power because the Turnbull Government has failed to reform capital gains tax and negative gearing.

Fundamentally, the government’s housing policies fail the fairness test. The vast majority of the benefits of negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions go to the wealthiest in the community. The Treasurer’s capitulation on tax makes much of the rest of their package inadequate.

In contrast, Labor is the only party with a plan to increase affordable housing supply and tackle distortions caused by the most generous tax concessions in the world.

Labor’s policy promotes a level playing field for those trying to buy a home. Labor’s policy also supports renters and people experiencing homelessness, particularly the growing number of women at risk of homelessness.

Senator Doug Cameron

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