Labor’s housing package is a historic commitment towards reducing inequality

16 December 2018

ACOSS welcomes Labor’s commitment on affordable housing today and offers to work with Labor, if elected, to ensure that the package delivers for those struggling the most financially.

“The cost of housing is crippling low-income people with many being forced into homelessness,” ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said.

“We welcome Labor’s announcement which focusses on the plight of renters on low to moderate incomes and includes ambitious affordable housing targets that would go a long way towards tackling Australia’s chronic shortage of affordable housing.

“It’s significant that Labor’s program to drive investment in new affordable rental stock would encourage energy efficiency, as we know low income households have to spend a far greater proportion of their income on electricity bills than medium and high income households.

“We welcome the Opposition’s commitment, and we now need the Morrison Government to urgently address our housing affordability crisis.

“Australia now has the highest median wealth in the world and yet still we have people sleeping rough or going without food in order to pay rent.

“The reality is that even with Labor’s commitment to provide housing at 20 per cent less than market rate, these homes will still be out of reach for many low income earners. We must address the erosion of the social housing system which provides a vital safety net for the most disadvantaged in our community.

“To help those struggling the most financially, we need to address the inadequacy of Commonwealth Rent Assistance through an increase of $20 per week, which Labor’s package today stops short of committing. Combined with a $75 per week increase to Newstart, modelling shows that a $20 a week increase to Rent Assistance would bridge the gap between low incomes and minimum living costs for a single person household.

“We can afford to ensure that everyone has a roof over their head, including by reforming housing tax concessions, which disproportionately benefit the very wealthy.

“Reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains discount are an essential part of the package. These overly generous tax breaks for property investors have helped to fuel the ‘boom/bust’ housing cycle and are a major structural problem to delivering on housing for all.” Dr Goldie said.