Labor’s response to the high cost of housing is a disappointment

Contributed from Victoria

I am disturbed to hear that the Albanese federal government continues to pretend it is doing something about creating affordable housing, while doing the opposite. If there is one thing confirming this, it is he shift to reviving the Shared Equity Scheme. This is where prospective homebuyers get to have a portion of their mortgage paid by the government, up to 40 percent, in exchange for ownership of a percentage of the property.

Meanwhile, the public housing stock is being reduced around the country.

I am one of the many who expected a lot better than this.

A scheme like this might be good in certain circumstances. In today’s reality, those facing a crisis still won’t be able to afford to enter the market. The already cashed up will benefit, and it will affect the market by contributing to raising the cost of housing higher still.

Photo by Dan Jensen

The rest of he housing plan is almost as bad. Read through the detail and it becomes clear that it’s a project to bankroll developers and the real estate industry, and covering this with the illusion that there are not enough homes for sale. The problem is that those that are for sale are out of the reach of a large part of Australia. Prices will have to come down considerably to make them affordable.

Prices are so high because of a speculative bubble that a succession of governments have encouraged. Those making a killing out of this and the real estate industry taking huge commissions love it just the way it is. The high cost of housing is a major contributor to the record high profits of the banks and other lending institutions.

Together, they form a formidable force, which contributes enough to the accounts of political parties and pressures government to protect their source of profit. The Albanese government has no intention of disappointing them.

Take the $10 billion offer for social housing spread out over years. The promise has been $500 million a year. This will result in only a handful of new affordable homes. But it will line the pockets of developers, who will be allowed to sell the rest of the projects they are contracted to build to the private market.

Even if this was not the case, at least $10 billion a year would have to be committed to make a difference to the cost of housing in general.

Labor then rejected the green’s call to introduce a rents ceiling to stop their upward spiral, using the same old argument about hampering the market.

Their answer to the housing problem is to encourage the market.

The Albanese government’s policy fails as a policy to create more affordable housing. This is a failure that may well contribute towards defeat at the next election, where a key is going to be the cost of living, and within this, the lack of affordable housing a key element. The public’s disappointment and anger at Labor may result in opening the door for a new Coalition government.  

Where will we be then?

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