The national discussion about housing affordability and boosting supply is how politicians make the public think they care without acting, one leading academic has said.
“People have been pushing this line that new supply is going to suddenly generate housing affordability outcomes for five or six years, but if you draw a graph of supply and prices they’re going up together,” the chair of urban and regional planning and policy at the University of Sydney, Peter Phibbs, told News.com.au
“If politicians were really interested in putting downward pressure on property prices, there are other things they could do.”
Scrapping federally-controlled negative gearing concessions – which Phibbs said was the “single most important” method for combating affordability issues – has been rejected by the new NSW Premier Gladys Berekilian.
As well as this, the government could also adjust tax settings by doing away with stamp duty or introduce a more efficient land tax, he said.
By focusing on fixing supply, politicians could be seen as taking action while in fact doing nothing at all, Phibbs said.
“If you leave it to the market, it’s an incredibly blunt tool. It’s like trying to put a bushfire out with a garden hose.”
While the government knows the topic of housing affordability is important for voters, the issue will never be seriously prioritised, he said, especially while politicians act in the interests of owner occupiers and property investors.
“What will probably change in Australia is a lot of people that in previous generations would be homeowners, are no longer going to be. We’ll end up with more renters than homeowners and that’s probably when we’ll see some real change from governments,” he said.
“But until then, the politics just don’t work.”
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