The Liberal Party’s election campaign use of “grossly misleading” fake rent increase notices has been slammed by a coalition of Australia’s peak welfare and housing groups.
Warning the material distributed to tenants by the Liberals was likely to cause unnecessary anxiety and fear among vulnerable renters, the group has called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to withdraw the leaflets.
ACOSS, National Shelter, the National Association of Tenant Organisations, Homelessness Australia and the Community Housing Industry Association released a statement on Wednesday calling for an end to scare tactics around Labor’s proposals to reform negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions.
“We strongly condemn the use of mock rent increase notices, which target people who already live in rental stress,” ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie said.
National Association of Tenant Organisations chair Penny Carr said the tactics would terrify some renters.
“This kind of political tactic is irresponsible and deliberately designed to alarm renters, including many who are already deeply concerned about paying the rent every week or in fear of unfair evictions by their landlord,” she said.
Ratcheting the campaigning up a notch in the final week before the election, we learn that Peter Dutton is sending fake eviction notices to tenants in #DicksonVotes. #Auspol pic.twitter.com/Y6aF1tY3Cd
— Louise Milligan (@Milliganreports) May 13, 2019
Shelter CEO Adrian Pisarski disputed Mr Morrison’s claim that rents will rise under the proposed changes to negative gearing.
“There is no evidence to suggest that rents would increase as a result of Labor’s proposed reforms,” he said.
“To the contrary, these changes are likely to reduce pressure on the housing market, improving affordability for both buyer and renters.
Homelessness Australia chair Jenny Smith said the election campaign scare tactics would instil fear in a vulnerable group of Australians.
“The major parties should be offering hope to people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in this election, not creating fear. That means putting homes ahead of investment portfolios, making renting fairer for tenants,” she said.
“We appeal to all political parties and candidates in the last days of the election campaign not to exploit the fears of vulnerable people with misleading scare tactics.”
Also on Wednesday, the Prime Minister denied misleading voters after claiming that rents could rise by up to 22 per cent if a Labor government reformed negative gearing.
He earlier cited a March report from investment firm SQM as a basis for his claim.
On Tuesday, SQM investment analyst Louis Christopher confirmed to The New Daily that he had never suggested the 22 per cent rise would be solely due to negative gearing changes, and that rents would go up regardless of Labor’s proposals. He did say that rents would rise further under the planned reforms.
“What he’s saying is that rents will go up higher, rents will go up higher specifically as a result of Labor’s housing tax – and that’s what he’s said and what I have said,” Mr Morrison said on Wednesday.
Mr Christopher said he expected rents to rise from 2020.
“There is nothing I have read from the Prime Minister or the Treasurer on our report that appears to be contradictory to the findings,” he said.
“If negative gearing is changed in the manner the Labor Party wishes to put through, rents are likely to rise between 2020 and 2022, over and above our forecasts for the status quo scenario … as covered in the report.”
Mr Christopher has previously claimed that Labor’s negative gearing proposals would have no impact on rents and backed the plans as necessary.
This year, he released a report stating that rents in Brisbane could go up by 22 per cent over three years. He also said market conditions meant rents would rise, regardless of whether Labor’s changes were introduced.
Mr Christopher has forecast a worst-case scenario of 13 per cent increases over three years if a Liberal government is re-elected and there are no changes to negative gearing.