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The 10-point Plan to Tackle the Housing Crisis Rides Again

Posted by on February 21st, 2017 · Affordability, Affordable housing, Cities, Government, Housing, Housing supply, Planning, Tax

By Hal Pawson, Associate Director, City Futures Research Centre.

With anxieties about Australia’s increasingly unaffordable housing close to fever pitch, increasingly zany policy ideas are being touted to fix the problem. Not long ago we heard the Urban Task Force advocating for a plan fundamentally undermining NSW planning system integrity. Last week the ABC’s Michael Janda described as ‘a recipe for financial disaster’, Nationals MP Andrew Broad’s call for deposit-free housing loans. And proposals to allow super to be used for home purchase, previously panned as ‘hare-brained’ and a ‘thoroughly bad idea’, have been revived by the NSW Planning Minister.

Recognising the need to re-inject some sanity into the debate, The Conversation last weekend re-posted our 10-point plan for fixing housing unaffordabilility, as originally published in June 2015. These evidence-based proposals by seven Sydney-based housing academics were couched in moderate and non-partisan language. And, as noted at the time, most were then – and remain – widely supported by policymakers, academics and advocacy communities, as well as throughout the affordable housing industry.

Far from being a ‘simple matter’ of boosting housing supply, addressing Australia’s housing affordability challenge is in fact complex. It calls for a set of concerted and coordinated actions by national, state and territory governments. Crucially, therefore, our plan advocated a comprehensive strategy calling for action involving all levels of government.

Encouragingly, on a number of our recommendations the past two years have seen at least tentative signs of progress either nationally or at state level. Here in NSW, the Greater Sydney Commission has proposed affordable rental housing targets for incorporation within the planning system. And none less than the Federal Treasurer, Scott Morrison has apparently been progressing plans for a bond aggregator to facilitate low-cost private finance for affordable housing development. He recently even hinted that a new tax credit scheme to channel effective subsidy into rental housing could be on the cards.

The single most important outstanding item from the plan is reform of tax settings that encourage speculation in housing. Federal Labor has made a positive commitment on negative gearing and capital gains tax, and the ACT Government has taken positive action to broaden land tax. Supporting the courageous stand of prominent Federal Liberal MP, John Alexander, NSW Coalition Ministers Rob Stokes and Dominic Perrottet have recently shown interest in constructive reforms. And the fact that the Treasury had been investigating options around the CGT discount for landlord investors is promising – despite the Prime Minister’s reflex knock-back for the idea last week. Housing-related tax reform is no longer the third rail of Australian politics – it’s time the Prime Minister grasped it too.

One Comment so far ↓

  • William Clark

    Hal,
    I had not seen the 10 point plan – makes a lot of sense.
    I am doing some work on young adult transitions to ownership in the US (and the difficulties) and I will keep you in the loop.
    Bill

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