City Hub: New party to tackle housing crisis

Published in City Hub on July 23, 2015; co-authored by Christopher Harris

Online: http://www.altmedia.net.au/affordable-housing-party/107834

Bob Eggleton is the spokesperson for the Affordable Housing Party

A new political party is aiming for a senate seat in the next federal election after months of media discussion of housing affordability in Sydney.

The Affordable Housing Party of Australia was conceived in 2013, but the party is  “stepping up their game”, with the pursuit of giving buyers a chance in the simmering NSW property market.

The Sydney-based party is attempting to recruit 700 members in order to guarantee registration with the Australian Electoral Commission.

The party will seek to increase the affordability of housing by increasing supply and decreasing demand through a series of fiscal measures.

Party member Bob Eggleton said there needs to be a rethink on negative gearing, capital gains discounts, high stamp duty, a lack of public housing, first home buyer grants and superannuation tax concession, all of which he sees as contributing to ‘skyrocketing’ house prices.

“We have seen a lot of people who have kids supporting our cause, people in their 50s, and they are wondering, ‘how are my kids going to afford a property?’” Mr Eggleton said.

The new party is focusing on negative gearing in NSW, which the party says is one of the largest catalysts of rising property costs.

“Neither [major federal] party wanted to do anything because there are over a million people who have negatively geared property, and they don’t want to upset this large group” Mr Eggleton said.

Mr Eggleton said the party’s platform would advocate for the implementation of reduced stamp duty costs and increased public housing, as well as a review of first home buyer grants and superannuation tax concessions.

Lindsay David, economist and author of Australia: Boom to Bust, said this could have mixed long term economic outcomes.

“There would be winners, being, the next generation of Australians under these policies. But, you would have some losers… if house prices fall hard, so does the Australian economy.”

Eggleton also said foreign investment needs in property needs to be scrutinised.

“On the demand side, foreign investors should not be able to invest in Australia. It was Kevin Rudd who loosened the rules in 2010. On a longer time scale, we’d like to look at the levels of immigration into Australia.”

Harley Dale, chief economist from the Housing Industry Association, disagrees with Mr Eggleton that foreign investors are to blame for increased house prices in NSW.

“If you’re going to make grand neo statements about foreign investment and limiting immigration, you need to have answers as to what your alternative is” Mr Dale said.

Mr David said that limiting foreign property investment will not make NSW housing more affordable.

“Personally, I don’t think foreign buyers are making that much of an impact,” he said. “They wouldn’t be driving the overwhelming price of housing,” he said.

Emile Chakty is one person who posted messages critical of federal government policy on the party’s Facebook page.

“Our children will have to rent for life… Mr Abbott, not every homeowner wants house prices to rise. Time to treat housing as a basic need,” Ms Chakty wrote.

However, according to political experts, single issue parties in Australia very rarely gain traction and are more likely to have their policies incorporated into a major party if they capture a certain feeling around an issue.

Professor of Australian politics at the University of Sydney Rodney David said that the single-issue party’s chances of being elected are ‘slim’.

“People lose the initial enthusiasm they had for the idea of the party and they [the party] pass into history” said Professor David.

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