"Owning your own home is still a big part of the Australian dream and should be encouraged." – Rod McGarvie, Federal Senate Candidate for Queensland
Family First is committed to keeping the Great Australian Dream of home ownership alive for all Australians. Home ownership is both a symbol of the equality we share as Australians and a means through which average Australians provide security and stability for themselves and their families while building wealth and claiming a tangible stake in the nation. For the vast majority of Australians, owner-occupation of the home in which they live remains a great ambition.
- Family First recognises the moral, social and economic importance of the family home. In recent years however, a disturbing trend has emerged in the level of home ownership among young families. It is in substantial decline. We have witnessed, quarter by quarter, the erosion of housing affordability. In 2014, the median house price in the capital cities was more than ten times the national median income.
- Home ownership is fast becoming the privilege of the few rather than the rightful expectation of the many, and the province of older Australians at the expense of the young. And while influential bodies like the Productivity Commission and the Reserve Bank have focused their attention on demand drivers like capital gains tax, negative gearing, interest rates, readily accessible finance, first home buyers’ grants and high immigration rates, few have been looking at the real source of the affordability problem - land supply for new housing stock. State governments and their land management agencies are refusing to provide an adequate and affordable supply of land, preferring crony capitalism and price gouging to profit over $500 million per annum (2013-14).
- Australia does not have a ‘housing affordability’ problem per se – one can get a brand new house built for under $100,000, it has a ‘land affordability’ problem. The price of land has sky-rocketed. Over the past twenty years the price of residential land across Australia has increased by nearly five times.
To fix the problem for good and ensure that future generations do not suffer the same fate, Family First proposes eight key policy initiatives:
- Where they have been applied, urban growth boundaries or zoning restrictions on the urban fringes of our cities need to be removed. Residential development on the urban fringe needs to be made a “permitted use.” In other words, there should be no zoning restrictions in turning rural fringe land into residential land.
- Small players need to be encouraged back into the market byabolishing compulsory ‘Master Planning’. If large developers wish to initiate Master Planned Communities, that’s fine, but don’t make them compulsory.
- Allow the development of basic serviced allotments ie water, sewer, electricity, stormwater, bitumen road, street lighting and street signage. Additional services and amenities (lakes, entrance walls, childcare centres, bike trails, etc can be optional extras if the developer wishes to provide them and the buyers are willing to pay for them).
- Privatise planning approvals. Any qualified Town Planner should be able to certify that a development application complies with a Local Government’s Development Plan.
- No up-front infrastructure charges. All services should be allowed to be paid for through the rates system ie pay ‘as’ you use, not ‘before’ you use.
- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should be resourced to investigate land price gouging practicesby state land management agencies.
- The Federal Government should reduce grants to States or Territories found to have gouged publicly owned land for profits at the expense of housing affordability.
- The Federal Government should consider using the Corporations Power to allow any corporation that owns land to have the right to make land available for housing irrespective of any state planning or other law to the contrary.
Given the vast social and economic benefits that flow from home ownership, Family First believes restoring housing affordability should once again become one of our nation’s most important priorities.