Anthony Albanese has been accused of choosing the side of property investors over renters after fresh costings revealed by the Greens claimed the government’s landlord tax concessions would cost almost $39bn this year.
The move comes as the $10bn Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF) remains stalled in the Senate.
Under the proposed HAFF legislation, a $10bn investment would generate earnings to be spent on building new affordable housing. The government has committed to spending a minimum of $500m a year from the fund, and plans to construct 30,0000 dwellings in five years.
On Wednesday Housing Minister Julie Collins reintroduced the legislation into the House of Representatives and plans to introduce it to the Senate in October. The bill will provide a trigger for a double dissolution election if the Senate refuses to pass it.
The Greens have doubled down on their demands, which already include the abolition of negative gearing and ending the 50 per cent capital gains tax concession for investors, in order to fund rent freezes, double rental assistance and build 225,000 publicly-owned properties.
The Greens’ housing spokesman Max Chandler-Mather has accused the government of “turbo charging the housing crisis,” and says the cost of tax concessions could be put to work building housing for those who need it.
“If Labor spent as much on public housing as they are on tax breaks for property investors Australia could build over 100,000 public homes a year and tackle the housing crisis within a decade,” he said.
But the newly revealed $39bn costings include a wider array of property tax concessions, while the Greens have only sought to abolish two – negative gearing and the 50 per cent capital gains tax deduction for investors. The Greens changes would save less than $3bn this financial year.
The Greens claim these new costings are merely illustrative and designed to “demonstrate the asymmetry between Labor’s small contribution towards housing, and their support for property investors.”
In April this year, when the costs of the Greens’ actual policies were revealed, the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) estimated their proposed changes would raise $74bn, while costing $69bn.
However, in producing the costings, the PBO warned the proposed changes “would greatly reduce the return on investment for landlords such that many would be unlikely to invest without either a significant fall in prices or a significant increase in rents.
“The proposal may also have a broader impact on investor confidence, undermining economic conditions.”
Speaking in Question Time on Wednesday, Housing Minister Julie Collins called on the Coalition and the Greens to ditch their approach which risked torpedoing the HAFF in its entirety.
“It’s time to find a heart and it’s time to listen to people who desperately need housing right across Australia,” Ms Collins said.
The government and the Greens are expected to hold talks later this week in an attempt to break the Senate deadlock on the HAFF legislation, but compromise seems unlikely.