Greens leader Adam Bandt takes aim at ‘property moguls’ in new plan to help renters

Headshot of Katina Curtis
Katina CurtisThe West Australian
“Labor is making the rental crisis worse,” Adam Bandt will say, according to excerpts of his speech.
Camera Icon“Labor is making the rental crisis worse,” Adam Bandt will say, according to excerpts of his speech. Credit: Martin Ollman /News Corp Australia

Greens leader Adam Bandt has accused Labor of making the rental crisis worse and wants it to offer the States $1.6 billion in incentives to freeze rents while slashing tax breaks for “property moguls”.

The minor party leader will use a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday to set out a plan for tackling the growing crisis, signalling a fight for votes over housing and telling the Government it must come up with a significant package of measures to win the Greens’ backing for its housing fund.

“Labor is making the rental crisis worse,” Mr Bandt will say, according to excerpts of his speech.

“Labor is the party of property moguls. The Greens are fighting for renters and affordable homes for all.”

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He wants the Government to double the funding it offers to the states to build social and affordable housing, with the extra $1.6 billion only available to those jurisdictions that implement a two-year rent freeze.

As well, he is calling for Commonwealth rent assistance for people on welfare to be doubled if JobSeeker isn’t boosted, and for the Government to directly build 225,000 publicly owned properties over the next decade.

This would cost an estimated $69.4 billion over the next 10 years.

But it could be more than offset by reigning in negative gearing for people with more than one investment property and scrapping tax breaks on capital gains for investment properties.

Those two measures would save the Government $74 billion over the decade, Parliamentary Budget Office costings for the Greens show.

Mr Bandt says the change doesn’t target people who own one extra house or flat.

“We’re calling for an end to tax breaks the government is currently giving to people who own three, four, 12 or 25 properties,” he will say.

“It is about the 20,000 wealthy moguls who own more than six properties each and claim these handouts for the 151,000 houses they own between them.”

Capital gains discounts cost the Budget $23.7 billion in 2022-23 alone while negative gearing was worth $24.4 billion.

In WA, rising rents are placing the most pressure on people living in Perth’s outer reaches, new analysis of Census data finds.

In Canning, almost two in five households were spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent when the Census was done in 2021.

Pearce and Burt were both slightly above the national average of 32.2 per cent of households being in rental stress while Cowan and Brand were the same as the national average. Hasluck was close behind.

Rents have continued to rise sharply since the Census, with the latest Real Estate Institute of WA data showing the median weekly rent for a house in Perth is now $550 and $495 for an apartment.

The vacancy rate is 0.7 per cent, meaning it is very hard for people to find another place to live if their landlord wants to increase the rent or evict them.

A key plank of the Government’s plan to address the affordable housing crisis involves adding $10 billion to the Future Fund with the earnings on the money of up to $500 million annually to be spent building 30,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

The Greens have derided this as “gambling on the stock market” and want spending on public and affordable housing increased tenfold.

“If Labor wants our support on their housing bill, they need a package that meets the scale of the crisis,” Mr Bandt says.

He points to the Federal Government’s action on energy prices late last year and how Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pushed the Premiers to act too.

“It is unacceptable and irresponsible for the Prime Minister to throw his hands up and put the Greens’ rent freeze proposal in the too-hard basket when Labor holds almost every seat around the National Cabinet table,” he says.

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