The cheek

Howard government minister Kevin Andrews trying to blame the housing affordability crisis on Labor:

How Labor has made housing more expensive

He blames immigration (of course), foreign investment (of course) and governments not just rolling over whenever a developer makes an application (of course).

But even his figures and quotes show that the problem is one which, not coincidentally, took place on the Howard Government’s watch:

  • “A decade ago, social researcher, Jeanne Strachan, reflected on an emerging concern about housing: “Young couples today are the first generation since the war to face the reality that they often can’t obtain, even with two full-time workers in the house, what their own parents saw as a fair and reasonable reward for their hard work.””

  • “The proportion of Australians under 35 who owned their own house declined from 44 per cent in 2001 to 38 per cent in 2008.”
  • “The proportion of Australians aged 55 to 64 with mortgages has increased from 13 per cent in 1996-97 to 30 per cent in 2007-08.”
  • “there has been a substantial expansion of the spatial gap between the haves and have nots: 27 per cent of dwellings in different population centres were found to be ‘unaffordable’ in 2006, while none were in 2001.”

It is clear that the recent housing price boom started after the Howard Government implemented a first-home-buyers’ grant to pander to the building lobby at the time of the introduction of the GST – something Andrews now concedes makes house prices “spike” – and then went completely out of control when Howard halved capital gains tax and the market was promptly flooded with investors.

Andrews is right that Labor has done nothing to help this – its doubling of the grant did indeed make matters worse, and the grant is still in place. It has also, of course, done nothing to tackle the elephant in the room, ridiculously low CGT – and if it did, naturally the Coalition would scream bloody murder.

But crocodile tears from a Howard government apologist are pretty hard to swallow. Andrews’ solution – releasing more land, but not spending public money on building new public transport infrastructure to service it, and (he implies) cutting immigration in some unspecified way, will not be enough.

Still, at least he – belatedly – recognises that there’s a serious problem. That’s a step.

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5 responses to “The cheek

  1. Ah yes, the old furphy about house price rises being due to governments not releasing enough land. Ross Elliot also ran this in passing in Online Opinion recently.

    Even the quite developer-friendly National Housing Supply Council concedes in its analysis that Melbourne had a sizeable surplus in housing supply right up until 2007, despite having had a strong urban growth boundary in place since 2002. The biggest price rises in Melbourne actually occurred in the period from 1996 to 2001, before there was a growth boundary and at a time when the Kennett Government was zoning land for residential use willy-nilly.

    Seems to me the main factors driving house price inflation are the availability of finance, the shifting market balance between owner-occupiers and investors, and growing income inequality in general.

  2. I remember attending a question time on a school trip to Canberra where Howard said that rising house prices didn’t matter because “I’ve never had anyone complain that their biggest asset has gone up in value.” Funny that he was saying that in front of a class of schoolchildren (private school, but schoolchildren nonetheless.)

    Of course, at the time I didn’t realise it would affect me, and I just thought it was funny to see Howard ranting and screaming only for him to say the exact same thing on the evening news in his normal grandpa voice.

  3. Kevin Andrews—as a politician, the lowest of the low—he has no redeeming features what so ever, as a politician. Regards Richard Ryan. PS. For the record wears the same smirk as Andrew Bolt.

  4. Lucky I wasn’t eating food – just the mere mention of the name ‘Kevin Andrews’ makes me want to vomit.

  5. Kevin Andrews is a despicable individual and was an incompetent minister, I pay no attention to what he says. :)

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