The Liberal Party must ensure it represents renters, by presenting policies that provide renters the opportunity to do more than just having a house, but to have a path of owning a home of their own.
With 1.5 million new Australians arriving in the next five years under Anthony Albanese’s Big Australia policy, housing lot approvals at record lows, the next generation are increasingly reliant or going to be renting, to access housing. The Liberal Party must appeal to them, they are voters and they should have a voice, we need to ensure the Liberal party appeals to them. It is important that people of all backgrounds, economic status, life situation which includes status of housing, are represented. Renters are a growing cohort.
I grew up in a lot of rental housing in the 1980s. The economy was tight, my parents went through some rough times and we moved around a lot, trying to find the cheapest option. It wasn’t always fun but an easy rental market allowed my family to find a way out of Keating’s recession we “had to have”.
Today things are so much worse. Rental prices have increased dramatically, and the low supply issues mean that it’s almost impossible to find somewhere else, let alone somewhere cheaper.
Social housing alone cannot do the job. As we saw, in data this week more than 1,600 extra Queenslanders – including families with children – were added to the ever growing waitlist for social housing, with more than 40,000 now on the waitlist as the system continues to buckle.
So, whilst young aspirational Australians are more likely to be renters their values haven’t changed. They still want reward for effort, a strong economy to build a life in and equality of opportunity so that they can contribute at their highest level. They do want a home of their own. Rented, or mortgaged.
Of course, we can’t ever abandon the Australian Dream of home ownership for the next generation nor turn our backs on those who’ve achieved it. Nor should we. But we need to be realistic and we won’t overcome the affordability tide overnight.
We just need to face the facts; there are many Australians renting who hold these values and want to know that we’re there for them. Right now the biggest risk they face in a time of ultra-high rental prices is the looming threat of increased unemployment.
They don’t need false hope. The Greens can try and pretend that the issues are increasing rights of renters, when we know the real impact will be made by reducing rental prices.
We also need to be very clear on the causes for high rents.
At a Federal level we must call out Labor, Greens and the Teals for supporting the current high immigration levels. In the 12 months to September, Australia saw its largest ever immigration numbers despite us being in the depths of a housing crisis.
We also need to call out Labor’s Housing Policy for the Ponzi scheme that it is. Rather than being the $10 billion investment the government claims, it’s at best a yearly sum of $500 million which, at an average house price of $750,000 equates to a little over 700 new houses a year.
To put that in context, our own region saw around 800 houses built in the preceding 12 months. Labor’s grand vision to address a national housing crisis almost catches up to the development of just one regional city. How pathetic.
At a state level we must call out the impact of increasing red tape and higher taxes. It is pleasing to see one of our own put in charge for leading the debate on home ownership and I know David will do a great job and is leading the conversation.
The State Government has hurt renter with ever increasing land taxes and stamp duties, which is passed on in higher rents. We see council rates, development charges and levies, all increasing and they are all passed onto renters. Inching up additional costs on landlords will force their hand, which means higher rental prices.
It’s at the local government level however where the most damage is being done with restrictive regulations and the constant passing of risk and cost to developers has meant Australia now experiences record low housing supply. Federal and State government should continue to provide enabling infrastructure to facilitate sustainable and liveable residential development.
The deployment of Greens and Teal policy at a local government level, often fuelled by NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) hidden behind a charade of protecting heritage or liveability, has been the most significant driver of Australia’s housing crisis. It has crunched supply. This, coupled with rising demand from a growing population, and settings which make it easier to buy your third or fourth home, as opposed to your first have delivered a housing crisis.
The first steps a centre right party must take to help renters see rent price relief is to incentivise, by either the carrot or the stick, councils to increase their rate of land supply to the market.
It is not enough to see councils put more lots into their forward plans. Local councils must be incentivised on the basis of actual lots sold.
Only then will increased supply provide downward pressure on rental prices and aspirational Australians in rental accommodation will know the Liberal party is working for them. The reality is, if the Liberal and National parties are to govern again, we should and need to represent renters.