1. Improve access to housing
1.1. Policy: The Science Party proposes the following policies to improve housing affordability and increase service provision:
- Loosen height and density restrictions on urban infill areas with high demand. Former industrial estates are perfect locations for accommodating additional population without adversely affecting existing residents.
- Increased land releases to increase density, while also increasing public open space such as parks.
- Encourage density in previously undeveloped ares ("greenfield developments") by increasing local service provision, such as train services, and allowing mixed zone developments.
- Decrease regulation not related to safety to allow a greater mix of housing styles and sizes to ensure that people can find housing that is best suited to their needs.
- Decrease regulation to encourage mixed use developments where office space, small to medium retail and residential buildings are close to one another or are found in the same building.
- Remove the distortionary tax treatment of the housing market. The 50% capital gains tax (CGT) concession on assets held for over 12 months (including dwellings) should be abolished for all new purchases and gradually phased out for existing assets. We also seek to replace stamp duty. See our CGT and land tax policies for more details.
- Following introduction of the above policies, reform public housing policy to ensure that it is available to those who need it most, while reducing costs by making the transition away from public housing easier for those who are capable of doing so.
1.2. Discussion: Housing is extremely unaffordable across the major cities of Australia, and there is little political will to address this issue (Housing Affordability in Australia; see 'Government Response').
The 14th annual Demographia survey (PDF via demographia.com, 3 MB) categorises each of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth as being "severely unaffordable" in that the median house price is greater than five times the median annual income. Within Australia, Sydney's housing is the most unaffordable, with median house prices 12.9 times the median income; in Melbourne, the multiple is 9.9. Throughout the 1980s, the median house price in all five cities was below five times the annual income.
While very high prices and high rents are great for those who own two or more houses, for most people this situation is not ideal. We spend too much of our income on our housing considering that we are one of the least densely populated countries in the world. The fruits of a healthy economy and hard working population should not be completely eaten up by mortgage and rental payments.
The Science Party has a plan to create a new city which will increase the supply of housing, making housing affordable both inside the city and eventually in the other major cities. However, it will take some time for this new city to have a big effect on housing affordability around the country. Hence we need to act now on several fronts to repair the current housing situation.
The Science Party has identified that the cost of housing is distorted by several factors:
- Preferential treatment of investments in housing through the tax system (that is housing that is bought not for personal use, but further properties that are used purely for investment gains)
- NIMBYism (Not In My BackYard), which leads to inefficient redevelopments of older properties
- Restrictive building codes that prevents a variety of housing styles from being developed.
- A lack of consideration in developments for affordable housing through over-regulation of housing quality. There are many regulations that prevent the construction of housing that is affordable for a wide range of people. These regulations mandate minimum standards which do not add to the safety of the building. Many of these regulations mandate building styles that most people would consider an optional luxury in older buildings. These regulations reduce the supply of affordable housing by mandating luxury in new buildings where it is unnecessary.
The Science Party considers the zoning of inner city areas to be an issue not only of local importance, but of citywide and national importance. Cities that are well designed ensure access to employment, improve health, and reduce crime for the population all while allowing the economy to function efficiently.