Housing Policy

Every person should have access to a roof over their head, and plannning should be focussed around people to promote health and efficiency.

 

1. Review building restrictions and regulations 

Aim: Promote open space, density, variety and sustainability.

 

1.1. Policy: Review recommendations and set minimum standards for open green spaces.

1.2. Discussion: Adequate and accessible green space is correlated with higher levels of perceived general health. New South Wales should set minimum standards for distance to, and amount of, green space. For example, the UK Accessible Natural Green Space Standards (ANGSt) report (downloadable as a PDF here via Natural England) recommended that no person should live more than 300 metres from a green space of at least two hectares in size.

 

1.3. Policy: Loosen height and density restrictions on urban infill areas with high demand.

1.4. Discussion: Former industrial estates ("brownfield" developments) are ideal locations for accommodating additional population without adversely affecting existing residents. Density should also be encouraged in new developments on previously undeveloped land ("greenfield" developments). To encourage density, governments must ensure appropriate that public transport infrastructure is in place. 

 

1.5. Policy: Encourage mixed-use development, for example the current "B4 Mixed Use" zone guidelines.

1.6. Discussion: Regulations that are not related to safety or livability can have a detrimental effect by prohibiting land from being used for its most efficient purpose. Allowing a mix of offices, retail and housing of various densities to exist close to each other, or in the same building, will give people the best chance of finding housing that best suits their needs

2. Reform public housing policy

Aim: Ensure all residents have access to stable, affordable accommodation.

2.1. Policy: Work with relevant bodies to provide housing for people who are long-term homeless.

2.2. Discussion: Apart from the fact that we consider it a right for everyone to have a roof over their heads, simply providing stable housing to the chronically homeless is substantially cheaper than dealing with the crises that arise from chronic homelessness, according to recent studies from Charlotte and Santa Clara County in the US, Canada, and replicated in Brisbane.

Public housing policy should also be reviewed to make the transition away from public housing to the private rental market easier for those who are capable of doing so.

3. Land tax

Aim: Simplify taxes and avoid distorting the housing market.

3.1. Policy: Implement a broad-based land tax to replace stamp duty, existing land taxes, and payroll taxes. Local councils will receive a flat proportion of the land tax collected, but may choose to charge additional rates.

3.2. Discussion: Stamp duty disincentivises buying and selling of houses as it is charged to the buyer at the time of sale. The proposed land tax would instead be levied quarterly for investment properties, and owner-occupiers would have the option of either quarterly or time-of-sale payment.

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Further discussion of our Land Tax policy can be found here. A broad-based land tax is recommended by the Henry Tax Review (2009, see recommendations 51 to 54 here, with reasoning given here) and a McKell Institute report (2016).

Adequate supply of housing is one factor in stabilising house prices, but not the whole picture.

The capital gains tax (CGT) is a federal tax on profits on the sale of property (excluding the family home) and other assets. The result of the CGT is that income made from selling assets is taxed, just as income from work is taxed. However, since 1999, a 50% discount has applied to CGT: only half of the profit made from the sale is counted as taxable income (while half is tax free). This tax discount makes property investment an attractive option.

For example:

  • A worker earns $100,000 in the financial year 2017–2018. Their income tax bill is $24,632.
  • A property investor bought a house for $1,000,000 two years ago, and then sold it for $1,100,000. They made a profit of $100,000, but due to the 50% CGT discount, their taxable income from the sale is $50,000. If this is their only taxable income for the year, their tax bill is $7,797.

Negative gearing allows landlords to reduce their tax bill if their income from rent does not cover the combined cost of improvements to the property plus interest on the loan for that property. It is sometimes regarded as the culprit in the inflation of the house market. However, when negative gearing for investment properties was introduced in Australia in 1985, it had no discernible effect on house prices on its own. After the introduction of the CGT discount in 1999, investors started to take much greater advantage of negative gearing and house prices in capital cities started to increase disproportionately.

Also, the CGT discount benefits the highest-income Australians much more disproportionately than Negative Gearing does (see: It's the Revenue Stupid, figures 9 and 10, p25).

Is it therefore part of the Science Party's federal platform to remove the Capital Gains Tax discount. Negative gearing should be approached in the context of whether it is a fair avenue of tax reduction rather than as a way to tackle rising house prices.

 

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