Labor has failed Australians on housing


We all know that Australia’s housing policy has been broken for decades, resulting in declining affordability and lower homeownership rates.

Australian home ownership rates

However, it is impossible to argue that the Albanese government has not made the situation worse by deliberately running the largest migration program in the nation’s history at the same time as the supply-side of the housing market was constrained by the pandemic.

Historical NOM

Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

The date is 30 August 2022 and Australia’s new Treasurer Jim Chalmers is being interviewed by Michelle Grattan.

Treasurer Chalmers is touting a “broad appetite” for lifting Australia’s migration intake.

“We’ve got these skills and labour shortages running rampant through our economy”, he said. “So we need to move on this front [i.e., immigration]”.


Chalmers also says that he is confident “we’ll get to a sensible landing point” on immigration and that “business groups around Australia… are screaming out for more workers, skilled workers, but also workers more broadly”.

“Migration brings immense benefits to our economy, not just our labour market”, Chalmers said.

Michelle Grattan asked: “What about the immediate problems that an increase in migration undoubtedly brings in terms of the strain on the health system, on housing, so on, especially as things are at the moment?”.


To which Chalmers replied that the government is “trying to work with the super funds and other big investors, to see where we can incentivise some more investment in housing… I’ll work with the super funds and others to make that possible”.

Michelle Grattan warned Chalmers that “you’ve got a time problem here, you need the houses now, if migrants are coming in more numbers, and yet, if you’re talking about investment, that takes a while”.

To which Chalmers replied flippantly: “We’ve got to get cracking then”.


The rest is history. The Albanese government ramped up immigration to all-time highs, whereas actual housing supply collapsed to decade lows:

Dwelling completions vs population change

There is little relief on the horizon. While net overseas migration looks like it has finally moved past its peak, dwelling approvals continue to fall, signalling even lower construction rates:

Dwelling approvals

The upshot is that Australia’s housing shortage, which has already passed 200,000 homes, will continue to grow:

Housing shortage

In turn, rental inflation will also remain turbo-charged, smashing Australian tenants:

Capital city asking rents

The situation has Blue Wealth Property salivating:


The recent surge in population growth across the country has led to a significant strain on available dwellings.

As dwelling commencements across the country have sharply declined due to rising interest rates and increased construction costs, we will continue to see a severe undersupply in Australia’s property market over the next couple of years.

This shortage of available properties, combined with a continuously increasing population, will inevitably drive property values upwards.

Labor could not have delivered a bigger own goal here.

As illustrated in the housing shortfall chart above, Australia’s housing shortage nearly evaporated when net overseas migration tumbled over the pandemic.

Thanks to Labor’s reckless immigration policy, the housing shortage has surged back towards record highs.


Despite Labor’s disaster, MP Patrick Gorman was busy talking up the government’s housing failures:

The Albanese Government has an ambitious housing agenda. Boosting housing supply is a government priority.

That means more social housing is a priority.
More affordable housing is a priority.
More homes to rent is a priority.
More homes to buy is a priority.
And the Albanese Government is making sure it is a priority of other governments.

Last year, we passed landmark legislation to deliver the single biggest investment in affordable and social housing in more than a decade. This is life-changing. For generations of Australians.


The only thing “life-changing” for Australians is being plunged into deep financial stress, being forced to live in group housing, or being driven into homelessness.

Because that is the legacy of this Labor government.

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.