Labor’s HAFF-arsed housing bill
Fusion Party responds
The ALP has passed an underwhelming $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) that is designed to do as little as possible. As a one-off payment, $10bn would be wildly inadequate, but this is not even a one-off payment. The money that will actually be spent on housing is the dividends from a one-off $10bn endowment: $0.5bn annually at most.
Let’s put that in perspective
- Labour has committed $1.5bn to a private company for the Middle Arm project, a single piece of infrastructure - to help export fracked gas from Beetaloo (equivalent to a 20% increase in Australia’s carbon emissions).
- Stage 3 tax cuts will cost $20.4bn in their first year - 40 times the amount they have promised to spend on the housing crisis. This amount will double by 2033. People receiving those tax cuts will have more to spend on real estate thus increasing pressure on prices and housing inequality.
- The recent purchases of US nuclear submarines, a total spend of at least $300bn. (for those playing at home, that’s half a trillion on submarines, subsidies for the wealthy and handouts to their mates in the fossil fuel industry).
Labor kicks big when it comes to handouts for their donors. To then offer austerity to millions of Australians who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or struggling to meet weekly rent shows us definitively that the Albanese government is not here for the common good.
Why should the government invest heavily in public, social and affordable housing (particularly public housing)? Because the market cannot deliver housing for people on Centrelink incomes long term. It could in the 70s, 80s and 90s, but, after forty years of neoliberalism, not anymore.
Caption: graph from the Fusion Party’s evidence review on affordable housing, showing outrageous, speculative price growth.
This small gradual increase in more affordable dwellings means nothing to those 170,000 households and the homeless and will hardly affect the private rental market, ensuring those doing it tough today will be looking down the barrel of even more, unrestrained rental price hikes.
At Fusion, we believe housing is a human right and we need immediate relief for those doing it tough as well as systemic change. The majors have proven they don’t have the vision for either. Whereas Fusion housing policy has these ambitious goals
- Reducing incentives for housing speculation.
- Replacing stamp duty with land tax to incentivise productive land use.
- Ambitious targets for public, social and affordable housing, with guaranteed funding to ensure their establishment, and ongoing development.
- Incentivising and regulating for greater security of tenure for renters as well as a greater variety of housing tenures.
- Immediate rent controls.
Fusion’s detailed housing policy is due shortly.
The government is acting contrary to popular opinion. In April of this year, The Australia Institute conducted a poll. Among the key findings were
- An overwhelming majority (80%) of Australians agree that in the next federal budget, the Government should spend more money to directly build affordable housing.
- They went on to briefly lay out the numbers (“Australia has a shortfall of 650,000 social and affordable properties for rent”). And gave a brief description of the scheme:
- The federal government is creating an investment fund which will spend its earnings on social and affordable housing. The fund is expected to build up to 30,000 properties over five years, but if it makes less profit, it will build fewer homes.
- An outright majority of 51% said this was not good enough. Only 25% said it was good enough (the remainder weren’t sure).
A more recent Guardian Essential Poll found an overwhelming majority in favour of rent controls, which the government has also avoided.
But as if a demonstration was needed of how broken our democracy is, the government ignored the wishes of the public, and the needs of the vulnerable.
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