In the fall out from the leadership spill in August 2018, most thought the now Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, would take as long as possible to settle in before calling an election. Similarly, many believed that the outcome would be a fait accompli, with the Australian Labor Party (ALP) well ahead in the polls and presenting a united front over its six years in opposition.
On 11 April, the Prime Minister called the election for 18 May. A few weeks into the campaign, there have been perceived wins and losses for both sides. And the polls seem to be showing a turn-around for the Liberal Party, who may just make this election too close to call with the support of independent candidates.
For the housing industry, this election is a crucial one.
HIA launched its federal election imperatives the day before the election was called. HIA has called on all parties to recognise the importance of home ownership and to work to deliver policy settings and programs that can help to maintain a stable supply of new housing over the next term of government.
In the March edition of HOUSING, an outline of HIA’s 10 policy imperatives was provided. While all of these imperatives are important for HIA members, two in particular highlight the differences between the major parties and set the scene for how the next term of government will impact the housing industry.
Protect investment in rental housing
The ALP announced its intention to make changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax just before the 2016 Federal Election. This has given HIA time to undertake the research necessary to determine what the real impact of such a change could be on not just investment housing and first home buyers, but on the future rental market.
HIA commissioned independent research by the Centre for International Economics in 2018 which shows that once changes are made, the long term impacts would be a reduction in housing supply as investors leave the market, which in turn would increase both house and rental prices. This reduction in activity would also impact on the state budgets, with $1 billion being lost each year due to lower stamp duty receipts and other housing taxes.
With a proposed start date of 1 January 2020, this change would clearly have a real and negative impact on our industry and HIA will continue to put this case forward in the final days of the election campaign.
Make housing a priority
In contrast, HIA has again renewed its call for a federal housing minister, with a dedicated focus on housing and land supply. The Liberal Party is yet to suggest it will take up this recommendation, while the ALP has committed to introduce this position.
Despite a view that most housing matters are the responsibility of the states and territories, through the Council of Australian Government a federal government does have the ability to take an effective role in overseeing how states manage and promote housing supply, land release and planning reform. History shows this can be done and HIA would support either side taking on this imperative.
Kristin Brookfield is HIA Chief Executive – Industry Policy