Rent stress soars on Coalition’s watch

downloadaaDespite rental stress now impacting almost 600,000 low-income Australian households, the current Coalition Government continues to go into bat for their wealthy property investor mates.

Rental stress occurs when a household is spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent.

The new Productivity Commission Report on Government Services into Housing and Homelessness shows the number of low-income households in rental stress has now reached a staggering 599,049. This further highlights the Coalition’s abjectly failure to address the key economic and social issue of rental affordability.

Overall, 47.1 per cent of low-income households are now in rental stress, compared to 36 per cent 10 years ago. This includes 12.9 per cent of Commonwealth Rent Assistance recipients who spend more than 50 per cent of their income on rent.

Meanwhile, home ownership continues to freefall, private rental is increasing and social housing continues to evaporate. This is why Labor is reforming unfair negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions that benefit investors buying their sixth or seventh property over first home buyers. Labor’s policy won’t impact people who are currently negative gearing and accessing capital gains tax concessions. And by retaining negative gearing for new dwellings, Labor’s policy will also encourage new rental supply and put downward pressure on rents.

The nation’s pre-eminent housing research body, the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, estimates there is a shortfall of more than 525,000 affordable rental properties across Australia. To help address this shortfall, Labor will partner with the community housing sector and institutional investors to build 250,000 new, affordable and low energy consumption homes over the next decade. This will enable people on low and moderate incomes to escape rental stress and save to buy their own homes. Safe and secure housing is not a privilege reserved for the wealthy – it’s a human right. Without a home, educational and employment opportunities are severely reduced and health outcomes diminish.

It is outrageous that the Morrison government continues to defend overly generous, unfair and unsustainable tax breaks for wealthy investors and retirees while so many Australians live in poverty and insecurity as a result of rental and mortgage stress.

The Coalition’s obsession with privatisation, competition policy and their faith in the invisible hand of the market has resulted in an incoherent, incompetent and failed approach to housing policy in Australia. Only Labor has the policies and commitment to assist hundreds of thousands of our fellow Australians to put a roof over their head, live in increased security with better health, education and productivity outcomes for the nation.

Senator Doug Cameron

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