Finance Property Housing affordability inquiry a ‘waste of money’, says Labor

Housing affordability inquiry a ‘waste of money’, says Labor

A growing population needs a growing housing base. Photo Getty
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A parliamentary inquiry established nearly two years ago to investigate housing affordability has made no recommendations, drawing strong criticism from the Opposition.

The committee report came after a lengthy debate on negative gearing during the election campaign and amid skyrocketing house prices in Sydney and Melbourne.

Last month, NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes called for changes to negative gearing and accused his federal counterparts of falling prey to “a Canberra culture that promotes opposition over consensus”.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison promptly ruled out changes to negative gearing, claiming land supply was the key influence on housing affordability.

The committee, chaired by Liberal MP David Coleman, did not support changes to negative gearing and described the policy as a key feature of the Australian tax system for most of the last century.

The committee argued against increases to capital gains tax on housing, claiming it would likely have a negative impact on the housing market and the broader economy.

A majority of submissions found stamp duty taxes were inefficient and outdated, although no formal recommendation was offered as the Federal Government does not have jurisdiction over land taxes.

“However, the committee would support any future cross-government discussions on possible changes to these taxes,” the report said.

Housing affordability
The report put the onus back on to state and territory governments.

The committee found the introduction of a broad-based land tax would be a major change to the tax system and should only be considered as part of a broader reform package.

“State and territory governments need to do more to adequately address land supply and ensure that existing policies and processes are not unnecessarily causing an undersupply,” the report said.

The inquiry was placed on hold at the last federal election but was reinstated by the Turnbull Government in November, with much of the evidence already compiled.

Young people ‘getting screwed’: Greens

In a dissenting report, Labor MPs described the report as “a complete waste of taxpayers’ money” that was full of rhetoric but lacked substance.

“The government members’ report is a remarkable document in that it offers no recommendations to Government,” Labor’s report said.

“It should be entitled The Claytons Report — the report you have when you are not having a report.”

Instead, Labor called for negative gearing to be limited to new housing and capital gains discounts to be halved.

Greens MP Adam Bandt said the report was a wasted opportunity and young people were “getting screwed”.

“Reading the Government’s report is like being transported into a parallel universe,” he said.

“The Government refuses to admit there’s a problem, let alone take any steps to make housing more affordable.”


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