ABC Fact Check destroys Turnbull’s negative gearing lies again


Yet again, ABC Fact Check has caught the Coalition lying about negative gearing pushing-up rents in the 1980s:

At the first leaders debate on May 16, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told an audience of 100 undecided voters that Labor’s policy would push up rents.

Asked by moderator David Speers how the Prime Minister knew this would happen, he responded:

“If you pull up to a third of the buyers out of the market, the value of property will come down and, if you say to… if you make it harder for investors to buy properties – which, of course, they buy to rent – then there’ll be fewer properties to rent, the investors that are left will have to seek a higher return and this is exactly what happened, in the ’80s, when Paul Keating banned negative gearing, for a period…”

The claim that rents increased when negative gearing was briefly abolished in the 1980s is one that has been often repeated by those who seek to maintain the status quo.

It’s similar to a claim made by Joe Hockey in 2015, when he was treasurer, which Fact Check found didn’t stack up.

It was also repeated by Property Council of Australia CEO Ken Morrison, in another zombie earlier this year

So, in spite of this undead talking point’s refusal to die, it didn’t stack up when Mr Hockey made the claim, and it still doesn’t today.

You can read the full Fact Check report here, which comprehensively debunks Turnbull’s lie.

Or you can simply look at the charts on real (inflation-adjusted) rents, with the period where negative gearing was “abolished” shown in red.


Rental growth remained either flat or fell nationally:

ScreenHunter_3791 Aug. 15 11.02

In Melbourne:

ScreenHunter_3799 Aug. 15 11.12

In Brisbane:

ScreenHunter_3800 Aug. 15 11.12

In Adelaide:

ScreenHunter_3801 Aug. 15 11.12

In Hobart:

ScreenHunter_3803 Aug. 15 11.15

In Canberra:

ScreenHunter_3804 Aug. 15 11.15

And in Darwin:

ScreenHunter_3805 Aug. 15 11.16

With only Sydney and Perth registering increases, due to very low vacancy rates at the time:

ScreenHunter_3798 Aug. 15 11.12
ScreenHunter_3802 Aug. 15 11.14

Surely, if negative gearing had any impact on the cost of renting, its abolition in 1985 would have caused rents nationally to explode? Yet, the evidence shows absolutely no impact.

Malcolm Turnbull clearly favours lying over evidenced-based policy debate.


[email protected]

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.