Virtue signalling won’t save Australian renters


Renters in Australia’s capital cities would have saved $3.8 billion over the 12 months to March if rents had been frozen, according to a Better Renting analysis of Domain Rent Report data.

The amount saved per rental household differs by capital city, with Sydney households saving $2741 and Melbourne households saving $2537.

Rental Freeze

The Better Renting analysis used Census data on the number of each property type and size in the capitals with the change in asking rents for each in Domain data.


A rent freeze, if implemented two years ago, would have saved renters $6.7 billion over the past two years.

The Greens housing spokesman, Max Chandler-Mather, was quick to jump on the analysis:

“A $2,424 saving might not mean much to property investors like the prime minister, but for many renters, it means food on the table for their kids, a desperately needed trip to the dentist or a year’s worth of electricity bills”, Chandler-Mather said via a statement.


Sure, tenants would have benefited from a rental freeze. The same could be said for any cost-of-living pressure afflicting households:

  • Homeowners would have benefited from a mortgage freeze.
  • Households would have benefited from a freeze on gas and electricity bills or a freeze on petrol prices.
  • Beer drinkers would have benefited if alcohol excise was abolished.

You get the message.


Meanwhile, the actual driver of Australia’s rampant rental growth—mass immigration—continues unabated. And until immigration is slashed to sensible historical levels, the rental crisis will continue.

Historical NOM

The data unambiguously shows that rents declined during the beginning of the pandemic when net overseas migration fell, only to skyrocket when migration launched to record levels:

Asking rents

The relationship between population growth and rental growth is plain as day:

Population and rents

The fact that migrant numbers have exploded into a supply-constrained market unmistakably drove rental vacancies lower:

Rental vacancy rates

As a result, rental inflation skyrocketed:

Maybe the article should have said: “If the Albanese government froze immigration two years ago, tenants would have saved thousands of dollars and wouldn’t have been forced to live in group homes or on the street”?


Others get it. But not the idiot Green housing spokesperson Max Chandler-Mather:

MCM Tweet 1 MCM Tweet 2

If groups like Better Renting and Max Chandler-Mather genuinely cared about the welfare of Australian tenants, they would abandon unrealistic policy band-aids like rental freezes and lobby for deep cuts to Australia’s immigration intake.

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.