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More ambition, bigger vision needed to fix housing

Releasing a detailed policy statement today, ACT Independent Senate candidate David Pocock has foreshadowed that if elected, he will use a likely crossbench balance of power position to fight for more meaningful action on housing.

The community-endorsed candidate said this was one of the big issues raised with him by people across the ACT and that the incoming government would need to get serious about addressing Australia’s growing housing crisis, including by tackling supply chain issues and workforce shortages.

“We have seen a lot of tinkering around the edges and populist policies this election campaign that are clearly designed with winning votes rather than delivering good public policy in mind,” David said.

“That’s not going to cut it. People across the community want substantive policies that will make real headway in tackling the growing shortfall of affordable homes to both rent and to buy.

“Housing is a human right, and we need everyone across our community to have access to it.

“Housing is the foundation for job and economic security and is used to build financial security in retirement.

“We absolutely need policies that support pathways to home ownership, but they needed to be designed in a way that does not push up already prohibitively high prices.”

David is releasing eight policy priorities for housing which focus on:

  • Better national planning and coordination by developing a national housing strategy and elevating the housing portfolio to cabinet.
  • Significantly adding to the supply of social and affordable housing year-on-year through a range of policy solutions, including applying John Howard’s successful Sovereign Wealth Fund model to housing and adopting the community housing sector’s Housing Capital Aggregator model.
  • Increasing the supply of affordable rental accommodation, especially for essential workers, by better supporting the emergence of the build-to-rent sector and programs like HomeGround that use a mixture of local and federal government incentives to encourage private sector landlords to offer properties at 25% or below market rate.
  • Supporting more innovative pathways to homeownership that minimise inflationary impacts on the market like build-to-rent-to-buy or models like Nightingale to deliver housing that’s more affordable and better suited to the needs of occupants.

David is calling for the next Federal Government to review the GST redistribution and set aside the ACT’s historic housing debtwhich is severely impacting the ACT Government’s ability to address homelessness, and a shortage of crisis as well as social housing.

In 2013 the Federal Government cut $320 million from South Australia’s housing debt and wiped Tasmania’s entire debt in 2019 citing their “unique challenges” around housing affordability.

“More than half of the meagre funding the ACT Government receives under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement goes back to the Federal Government to repay this historic public housing debt,” David said.

“On the current trajectory the ACT’s housing debt won’t be paid off until 2041-42 during which time close to $33 million will be paid in interest payments alone.

“That’s money that could be much better spent actually building new social and affordable housing, especially given the ACT Government’s limited capacity to raise revenue.

“Releasing a single parcel of land won’t solve this issue. It’s not enough to point the finger and blame the ACT Government for strangling land supply – we need to work cooperatively between the two levels of government to come up with solutions.

“Housing pressures are being felt right around Australia and they are particularly acute here in the ACT, which is the most expensive place in the nation to rent and the second most expensive to buy.”

David also flagged Transparency International Australia’s concerns regarding money laundering in the property market and said that further examination of foreign ownership of property was needed.

“Buck passing between jurisdictions or small-scale policy interventions won’t deliver the large-scale, long-term reform needed to measurably improve the housing situation for millions of Australians,” he concluded.

“We need long-term thinking, well beyond the electoral cycle and a serious bipartisan commitment if we are going to make real progress.”

A full copy of the policy statement is available here.

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