By Mehroz Siraj
Housing industry experts across Australia have sharply criticised the country’s two main political parties for failing to bring in a viable housing policy into their election manifestoes.
New research has shown that rentals across Australia have increased by over 20 per cent since the time of the last elections, whereas mortgage payments have gone up as well.
According to Joel Pringle, who is the national campaigns manager for Australians for Affordable Housing.
As many people and families paid more than 30 per cent of their gross incomes on rentals and mortgages, their ability to spend money on other important items such as medical insurance and fresh food were diminishing, he said.
Pringle told ABC Radio that a study that was recently conducted by his organization revealed that the accommodation situation was a difficult one around the country, but particularly worse in Western Sydney.
Across that vast region, elections would take place in 20 electorates on September 7.
“There has not been the sort of infrastructure investment that would support new housing development out in that region,” he said, arguing that real estate development across Sydney was not keeping up with the city’s growing population.
Research conducted by other organizations, including many federal government bodies has supported these views.
Pringle said that despite being a pressing issue, provision of affordable housing was an area that was being ignored by both the mainstream parties in their major election campaigns.
Pringle appealed to politicians from both sides to take notice of the capital gains tax and negative gearing, saying that these legislations were not able to attain the desired objectives that they were meant to achieve.
Presently, only the Australian Greens have announced a serious policy towards tackling Australia’s housing shortages.
The policy does take a national and holistic approach towards targeting housing shortages and does explore its causal relationship with poverty and the social interactions of individuals.
In relevant policy details published on their official website, they have strongly advocated for establishing more housing units and estates across the country.
The Greens have also announced their support for a policy that ensures that required amenities such as community facilities would be established within these future housing units.
Experts believe that by not paying enough attention to the issue of affordable housing, Australian politicians are sending wrong messages across to the electorate in an important election year.
Melbourne University’s accommodation expert, Roger Deutcher argues that the accommodation squeeze is having major negative impacts for foreign and local students studying at Australia’s major universities.
Due to the tighter gearing of residential properties in the outer suburbs of Australia’s major cities, students were being forced to live in substandard accommodation near the CBDs that were routinely overcrowded and overpriced, he said.
This trend was depriving students from developing stronger bonds and relationships with the wider community, Deutcher said.
Experts believe that as providing sustainable accommodation to Australian people is a constitutional obligation of the federal and state governments, the Australian Labor Party and the Liberal-National Coalition should take up this policy initiative and present their proposals to the electorate.