What happens when government gives tax dollars to private housing investors?

What happens when government gives tax dollars to private housing investors?
Cory Memery

In Australia you get a crisis in affordability – private housing rents and home ownership – for millions of households and the homeless!

“Per Capita” – an independent highly respected public policy research group – has recently assessed the tax revenue that federal government forgoes through negative gearing and the 50 per cent capital gains tax discount for private investors who sell the dwellings they own and make a profit. On top of these tax benefits, private investors have their rents subsidised by Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) for tenants. The CRA adds to private investor profits.

Per Capita used government reports to accurately estimate what all this is costing: $27 billion in 2021/22!  Annual investor tax concessions have grown from $1.5 billion in 2000 to an estimated $18 billion in 2024. This huge amount of money could be spent on ending homelessness and providing quality, affordable public housing.

The Australian Greens and a number of independent federal MPs have demanded an end to these tax breaks for the wealthy. The story that Bill Shorten lost an election because he wanted to change this is just a beat-up driven by banks and private investor interests and should not be listened to.

The state government is pushing on with demolitions with no publicly available details

Public housing tenants are being offered alternate accommodation to move out of three towers in Flemington and North Melbourne but there is no transparency on how empty public housing and new dwellings built under the Public Housing Renewal Program and the Big Housing Build are being used for relocations, nor how much Homes Victoria is paying private investors to make scarce housing available instead of it being in the general rental market for those desperate for a place to live.

The financing of their plan is not clear. It is likely that a good chunk of the miserly annual allocations to Victoria of the federal government’s new Housing Australia fund have been earmarked for demolitions and redevelopments. If the guaranteed annual $500 million nationally is to be shared based on population size, Victoria will only be getting around $130 million per year.

This new fund is also dedicated to building more housing for defence personnel- serving and retired- reducing its availability to those in urgent need.

Anti-demolition Supreme Court injunction case is now up and running

Retiring Victorian Ombudsman, Deborah Glass, exposed the previous Andrews government’s disregard for public housing tenants’ human rights during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

I pay tribute to the public housing tenants now taking the government to the Supreme Court. They are standing up for their rights to be consulted, heard and to oppose the demolition of their homes.

New retain, repair and reinvest projects

The fantastic team at Office are now working on projects to keep towers as quality public housing. Please check out their website for announcements.


*Prepared with the assistance of the Save Public Housing Collective

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