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Is the Greens new housing plan feasible?

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The Greens have released their housing policy promising to build, sell, and rent 610,000 properties over the next decade
The Greens have released a housing policy, promising to build 610,000 in a decade

The Greens has put forward a housing plan that would see 610,000 homes built over a decade.

It’s calling on the Federal Government to lead a national property development scheme, which would be responsible for funding, building, selling, and renting housing to low-income Australians and first-home buyers.

Independent analysis found the cost of the scheme is “highly uncertain”. Property developers, the Labor Government, and the Opposition have criticised the policy.

Housing crisis

Australian rent prices have climbed to record heights in recent years. Rents grew by an average of 7.3% over 2023.

Data from property platform Domain showed national vacancy rates dropped to an all-time low of 0.7% in February, meaning renters have fewer options than ever.

Increasing property prices and interest rates have also affected people’s ability to save for home deposits and repay mortgages.

Greens pitch

The Greens has urged the government to invest in public housing development to ease the pressure on Australians.

The new proposal includes a combination of government-funded houses, townhouses, and apartments to be developed over the next decade.

The Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), which analyses the cost of election policies, estimated the proposal could cost $27.9 billion — a figure it called “highly uncertain” and unpredictable.

How would it work?

70% of the 610,000 government-built homes would go to renters.

The department would reserve some properties for the lowest-income earners. Rents on those homes would be capped at 25% of household income.

The remaining 30% would be sold to first-home buyers and priced slightly above what they cost to build.

Greens housing spokesperson Max Chandler-Mather said the plan would save the average renter $5,200 a year.

Response

Property Council CEO Mike Zorbas said increasing the supply of available housing is key to driving down prices and increasing ownership. However, he said the Greens’ policy is unrealistic.

Zorbas outlined an alternative plan for boosting supply, mostly centred around making it easier to approve new homes to get construction underway faster.

Govt response

Treasurer Jim Chalmers criticised the Greens policy and said “they never have to make anything add up,” because the party has never formed a Government.

Chalmers also criticised the Greens’ opposition to the government’s own housing policies.

The Greens oppose Labor’s “Help to Buy” scheme. The government has rejected the party’s calls to drop tax breaks that benefit property owners.

Under the scheme, the government would help fund 30-40% of a new property for some first home-buyers.

Opposition

Deputy Liberal Leader Sussan Ley criticised the Greens’ proposal. She said the policy doesn’t address the root issue of “young people getting into housing”.

When asked about the Greens’ policy, Ley said: “Like most Greens policies it makes no sense, it’s incredibly expensive and it looks like a lottery”.

In addition, Coalition housing spokesperson Michael Sukkar flagged his party will release its own set of housing policies in the near future.

Will it happen?

The Greens haven’t put forward any legislation to pass the housing reforms.

A Greens spokesperson told TDA it would work with whichever party is in government to implement the policy after next year’s election.

Depending on how many seats the party wins, the Greens could end up deciding who forms government. The Greens would use their housing policy as part of the negotiation.

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