- by Denis Doherty
- The Guardian
- Issue #2041
In May 2022, the new Labor government promised an injection of $10 billion into the housing sector. In late February 2023, not a single house has been built by the Federal government.
Legislation is just appearing in Parliament to get the system under way, but no house will be built till 2024!
The $10 billion was to build 30,000 affordable and social housing dwellings over the next ten years. Estimates of the need for housing are in the order of 437,000, according to the NSW University’s City Futures Centre.
Media comments use words like “modest” but the tragic reality is that ALP housing policy is a sham.
Governments fund services, using our taxes. If there is a problem, resources should be set aside to solve it. However, with housing, State and Federal governments apply neoliberal principles and housing must pay for itself.
Federal Labor’s plans to develop a housing futures fund that might generate $10 billion has been attacked by the Greens.
“This isn’t a $10 billion investment in housing, it’s a $10 billion gamble on the stock market,” says Greens spokesman Max Chandler-Mather.
“You wouldn’t subject health and education funding to the success or failure of the stock market, so why do that to housing?”
On 13th February the ALP legislation was introduced in Parliament and immediately ran into difficulties as both the Coalition and the Greens objected to the fund.
The Greens are proposing amendments that would see $5 billion per year going into quality public homes, not $500 million as the ALP plans.
“A $5 billion investment every year could fund hundreds of thousands of good quality public homes over the next decade, clearing the wait lists and ensuring we actually tackle the scale of the housing crisis,” Chandler-Mather added.
The ALP rarely mentions public housing. Social housing refers to housing provided by private sector organisations. Affordable housing is 20 per cent below market rent – but this is still unaffordable for many workers.
State and Federal governments persist with schemes that are little more than gifts to developers or real estate agents. These include first home grants, lower deposit schemes, reducing stamp duty and so on.
In addition, State governments are selling off or converting public housing stock to private ownership in the face of crisis where homes are desperately needed by hundreds of thousands of our citizens.
The housing crisis is real and deep. The Productivity Commission has revealed that all states have a deficit ratio of social housing dwellings to need. South Australia, ACT, and the NT are the worst performing.
This is more distressing as the backlog in Aboriginal housing in the Northern Territory came to a head recently over the troubles in Alice Springs.
Even the Property Council of Australia admits that 81 per cent of Australians think housing is unaffordable.
The housing crisis affects the working class disproportionally and governments at all levels must abandon neoliberal policies and make immediate and substantial investments in public housing.
The crisis will only start to be solved when we have fully government subsidised housing (public housing) where taxpayer money is invested in housing and the money is paid back slowly via rents, so housing is a replenishing activity of governments.
The CPA is campaigning for public housing. The CPA will fight for “accessible, good quality, affordable, well-maintained and safe public housing” and “an increase in government funding for public housing”.
Defend and Extend Public Housing!