The apartment game is rigged. We’ll need more than window dressing to fix it

Rents are rising out of control and the public housing waiting list continues to grow. Even before the pandemic, while we had record housing supply, we had record levels of homelessness. The crisis extends far beyond those trying to buy their first home, and yet – nine weeks before an election – this is the cohort who seem to be impressing the two leaders vying for the top job the most.

The Greens' plan recognizes that housing should essentially be about people having a home, not creating wealth for investors.

The Greens’ plan recognizes that housing should essentially be about people having a home, not creating wealth for investors.Credit:

Both Dominic Perrottet and Chris Minns have, as might be expected, touted their respective stamp duty regimes in self-proclaimed grandiose terms – ‘visionary’ and ‘brave’ – but the reality is that both Liberal/National and Labor are content to tinker with the edges of our broken housing system with piecemeal reform.

The Greens want to radically change our housing system. Our plan – primarily for tenants, first-time homebuyers, public and social housing tenants – recognizes that housing should essentially be about people having a home, not creating wealth for investors.

We will tackle the supply side of the housing crisis head-on by building masses of new public, social and affordable housing and ensuring the 100,000 people in NSW who are stuck on the social housing waiting list have housing they can afford without it to have 10 years waiting for it. And for the growing number of long-term and lifetime renters, we will fix the power imbalance that allows shady landlords to get away with poor maintenance, unchecked rent increases and unfair evictions.

The Greens have campaigned for years for a broad transition away from stamp duty to a more efficient, fairer and more progressive property tax that provides stable revenue for the government and acts as a deterrent to the wealth and wealth accumulation of the wealthy. In fact, the ACT Labor Green government is the only government in Australia to have successfully implemented a transition from stamp duty to property tax, so the Greens know what well-structured property tax reform looks like.

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There is nothing revolutionary about a reform that only applies to a few thousand people and is not part of a broader plan to abolish stamp duty. We have heard clearly from the experts that the Stamp Duty proposals from both Perrottet and Minns will put neutral to potentially low upward pressure on NSW’s inflated property prices by boosting demand that will not be matched by an increase in supply.

We need a plan that lasts longer than an election cycle. Neither Perrottet nor Minns have outlined real reforms for the state’s housing crisis. Instead, both have disguised the very modest programs for first-time homebuyers as “transformational” tax reform, proposed lackluster rent reform with endless loopholes for landlords, and left most of the significant challenges of the housing crisis in too harsh a basket.

And there is certainly nothing revolutionary about Labour’s stamp duty plan, copied and pasted verbatim from one of Berejiklian’s 2020 interim pandemic measures. Raising the threshold for stamp duty concessions and exemptions to cover a few thousand extra people isn’t sweeping reform — it merely accounts for the clamp-creep in an over-inflated market. In the 12 months that this scheme was operational in 2020-21, Sydney property prices rose by over 20 per cent.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/the-housing-game-is-rigged-we-need-more-than-window-dressing-to-fix-it-20230118-p5cdfc.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw The apartment game is rigged. We’ll need more than window dressing to fix it

Callan Tansill

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