A message from Andrew Potts, national convenor of The Affordable Housing Party:
The Affordable Housing Party was founded by former South Melbourne City councillor and retired Victorian state Liberal MLC Reg Macey. Reg quit the Liberal Party in 1992 when the party swung too far to the right for him. Reg founded the Affordable Housing Party party before the 2013 election along with a group of mature voters who were concerned about their adult children’s ability to become first home owners but he was not able to recruit enough members to register the party in time to take part in that election. Reg remains the president of the Affordable Housing Party and continues to play a mentorship role for the party.
Andrew Potts, a freelance journalist and former newspaper editor, joined the party in June of 2015 and in a short time was able to grow the party’s social media following from under 200 people to nearly 2,500 people as the party’s principle spokesperson and national convenor. Andrew is a former Australian Greens supporter and a former editor of the Sydney Star Observer weekly newspaper and has written for a variety of community print publications for over a decade in Australia as well as being published overseas.
Andrew was able to recruit the required 500+ members to register a party and submitted registration paperwork to the AEC in May of 2016. However the AEC suspended the registration process when the election was called.
The party had believed that its registration process would be expedited if it submitted paperwork before the AEC deadline and had recruited candidates to stand for the senate in New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT, South Australia, and also had members who had expressed an interest in taking part in several House of Representative contests to raise the profile of the party. But that was not the case.
Reg and Andrew believed that the party would be successfully registered after the 2016 election in plenty of time to run candidates at the next federal election and had submitted a party logo to appear on the ballot. However on December 6 Andrew was contacted by the AEC who informed him that they had decided to disqualify 64 of the party’s members as they were unable to match them to the electoral roll and that the Affordable Housing Party had just two weeks to resubmit a refreshed member list of between 500 to 550 members or it would lose its $1000 registration bond and have to begin the party registration process all over again.
The party will be able to convert some of these disqualified members by reaching out to them individually to update their details. However more members will be needed to give the party the best chance of being successfully registered.
Having turned to its supporters on Facebook the Affordable Housing Party is conducting a final membership drive to ensure that the issue of housing affordability in Australia will be on the ballot at the next federal election.
The party is recruiting multiple new members every day but it is calling on MacroBusiness readers who are concerned about the housing investment bubble in Australia and the housing affordability crisis to join the party so that we will get over the line.
Joining the party is free and people can sign up by going to and clicking through to sign up as members via GroupSpaces, the website the Affordable Housing Party uses to maintain it’s membership database. The only requirement for membership is that people be on the electoral roll in Australia and not currently a member of another political party.
HOUSING PARTY MANIFESTO
In 1986 in the Inner West Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill you could buy a newly renovated three bedroom home with a big backyard for $150,000 and pay off the mortgage in under a decade.
In 2016 to buy the same house newly renovated would cost you $1.5 million and you will probably be paying off the mortgage for the rest of your life.
Wages in Australia didn’t increase by 1000% in the two decades since 1986. What happened to make Australia have the least affordable housing on the planet?
Negative gearing (where an owner treats his investment property like a business that is losing money to avoid paying tax on the rental income) and the capital gains tax discount (where housing is taxed less than other forms of investment) have turned housing from a fundamental human need in Australia into a tax minimisation scheme for the wealthy.
Negative gearing by property investors reduced personal income tax revenue collection in Australia by $13.2 billion in the year 2010/2011 and that number is only rising. Most of Australia’s politicians are property investors. The 226 members of the Australian Parliament own 563 properties – a combined property portfolio worth over $300 million. Our politicians have a vested interest in keeping this tax minimisation scheme in place and not intervening in other areas that are driving up property prices in Australia.
One factor driving up property prices is Australia’s weak enforcement of its laws banning overseas investors buying property in Australia which has made this country a haven for illegal buyers and for international money laundering by organised crime.
Even just temporary residents in Australia are allowed to buy property and there is no checking that they sell those properties when they leave.
At the same time domestic issues are driving capital flight out of mainland China which has seen many ordinary Chinese people choose Australia as a safe place to park their money in real estate in case the Chinese Government clamps down on their banks because of economic instability at home.
Many of these buyers do not want the trouble of managing a rental property remotely and do not get tenants in so the property will be in pristine condition when it is sold again.
A study of water usage in Victoria found that there were 82,724 homes in Melbourne that are being left deliberately empty by investors. That’s nearly 20 percent of the investor owned homes in Melbourne and it is likely that there are similar numbers of deliberately empty properties in our other capital cities as well. These unavailable properties creates an artificial scarcity of housing for renters and buyers which pushes prices up even higher.
Adding to the pressure is record high immigration under the Liberals while they simultaneously demonise refugees – adding a quarter of a million new people each year who need to find housing in Australia.
Fear of missing out and easy lending by the banks has driven more and more people into the housing market, paying more and more ridiculous prices in the belief that property prices will always go up – but they don’t and all these things combined are fuelling a dangerous property investment bubble that will send hundreds of thousands of Australians broke when it finally bursts.
It is now estimated that property in Australia is probably overvalued by 30 to 40 percent over its real worth. So if you’re buying that $1.5 million house in Dulwich Hill it’s probably only worth $1 million and you might as well have burned your deposit.
However a controlled demolition of house prices in Australia by making property a less attractive investment option compared to other forms of investment over time can prevent this kind of economic disaster from occurring and better policies by government can make sure another bubble does not occur.
So what are the solutions? The Affordable Housing Party proposes the following:
-Phase out negative gearing and the capital gains discount on property -Introduce a tax on properties left deliberately empty by investors
-Make sure real estate agents must check that buyers are legally able to buy in Australia and punish anyone found to have facilitated an illegal sale to an overseas investor with heavy penalties
-Fix the money laundering loopholes in Australia’s laws that make us a financial haven for international organised crime groups
-Lower immigration from 250,000 a year to around where it was under the Hawke and Keating governments until infrastructure and housing can meet demand to preserve the quality of life that attracts migrants to this country while raising Australia’s refugee quota for UNHCR registered refugees to 20,000 a year and boosting Australia’s international aid commitment to the United Nations refugee system to support refugees in other countries
-Increase federal funding for more public and affordable housing developments for low income people, the elderly and the disabled
-Get rid of stamp duties that raise the cost of buying a house by thousands of dollars and get rid of first home buyer grants that really only benefit sellers. Buying a home can be made more achievable by other means
He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.
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