The real estate crisis justifies a vacancy tax for greedy investors

Investing in specific assets that can appreciate in value over time is a hobby that generally has no impact on the common good. If a non-art lover buys a Brett Whiteley canvas just because he could make a profit on his investment in a few years, it doesn’t hurt others. Likewise, it can be considered a wise investment for a teetotaler to buy a pack of Grange only to later sell it for a profit. However, when a real estate investor buys a home or unit for the sole purpose of making a capital gain, there is a risk that the broader community could be the loser. The investor may conclude that it is wiser to leave the property vacant (“Council wants to tax vacant houses”, May 14) than to deal with the rent and the potential damage that future tenants may inflict on the property could set off. The unexpected gains from resale sometimes far outweigh the lost rental income. A clear example of market failure is when a property – which could be someone else’s home – sits empty while the homeless sleep outside in their cars on the street or in a tent in a nearby park. If such a market failure occurs, the responsible level of government should react. The introduction of a vacancy tax is an example of an appropriate response to this problem. Mike Reddy, Vincentia

Illustration: John Shakespeare

Illustration: John ShakespeareCredit:

If the ‘Great Aussie Dream’ is as good as dead, why not just pass legislation in mainland Australia that says landlords can’t sell their surplus property in the middle of one, rather than just letting owners of vacant apartments do tax? Do they then have to shed this housing crisis and invest in something other than real estate?
How many more housing units would that add to the Australian housing market overnight? Might be worth it before we take the developer pill and build hundreds of thousands more. Nathan English, Lilyfield

Private Perks

We should look at the severe overcrowding in some Sydney schools in the context of over-generous funding for private schools (“Popular Schools Pack in Students,” May 14). To add salt to the wound, just ahead of the NSW election, the Perrottet government committed $50 million to private and Catholic schools: millions for new classrooms, upgrades and infrastructure projects. Many private schools are financially able to fund gymnasiums, concert halls, athletic fields, swimming pools, and rowing halls. Tony Simons, Balmain

Be brave

Our Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s bold infrastructure agenda may be slowed down somewhat by the requirements of an ongoing review, but we should encourage a bold approach to projects that can create jobs and ensure lasting benefits for the community (“Albanese’s big agenda hits a snag”, May 14). There will always be those whose shyness limits progress and productivity. Any endeavor you choose to mention will generate a lot of negativity. Our Prime Minister has a bold approach. Let’s hope the reviewers have a similar level of vitality in the vision. Derrick Mason, Boorowa

are you talking to me

Thomas Mitchell is right. People will see his point of view as old-fashioned (“Famous or not, fathering at 79 should be taboo,” May 14). The columnist says 79-year-old Robert De Niro is selfish because his newborn daughter will have “borrowed time.” Who says the actor doesn’t live to be 100? If not, look at the positive side. The child receives his inheritance at an early age. Mitchell also says he’s looking forward to his children taking on the role of caregivers at 79. I suggest he talks to people over the age of 79 and finds out how many of them expect their adult children to take care of them. The majority of these seniors value their independence. They want their children’s support for their independence, not nurturing. Riley Brown, Bondi Beach

Proud bastard

The behavior of some men confirms Julie Szego’s claim that we are “bastards until proven otherwise”. I just didn’t realize that I had to undergo this character evaluation on a daily basis. According to my wife of 37 years, I only manage to prove myself wrong about four days a week (“Mom was a complicated woman. We all are,” May 14). Col Burns, Lugarno

Royal bore

The king bored (“Charles seemed bored at his coronation. Perhaps, like us, he has no idea what modern kings do,” May 14)? If my children ever complained about boredom, I would hand them a tea towel or feather duster, point to a broom, or tell them to go outside and rake the leaves. Not really an option at a coronation, but I rarely had bored kids. Meredith Williams, Northmead

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Justin Scaccy

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