Housing Affordability - 25/11/21

25 November 2021


I rise today to talk about the crushing crisis of housing affordability and how this government has fallen asleep at the wheel while allowing young Australians to be completely priced out of the market. Before COVID, buying a home was as hard as it had ever been, something simply out of reach for most Australians. House prices are stubbornly high, and the bubble that everyone talked about seemed to be made of iron. There were no signs at all of any burst—in fact, it's been the opposite. When the pandemic started the predictions were that prices would fall. Instead, prices have accelerated. The talk was that the lack of foreign investment snapping up our housing stock would provide young Australians with a big opportunity to get into the market. But that hasn't happened. The median Sydney house price pre COVID was $1 million. Ten months into the pandemic that same house would put you back an extra $300,000—$300,000 in 10 months. Sydney was the worst, but we saw similar figures around the nation, including here in Canberra. Over COVID, the typical Australian house price has climbed by more than 20 per cent. In Canberra, prices have risen by 38.4 per cent. Houses have been appreciating at a staggering rate of $720 per day. Canberra is now second only to Sydney when it comes to capital city house prices.

What has the government done to address this? Absolutely nothing. They are consistent in their inaction. The government's policies are woefully out of date. The government's First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which is supposed to allow 10,000 first home buyers the opportunity to put down a deposit of as little as five per cent, is completely out of step with the reality of house prices. In Canberra, to be eligible for the scheme, the price of the property must be below $500,000. The problem is that the median house price in Canberra is more than $1 million and rising fast. A quick search on Domain shows that there are exactly zero houses in my electorate under $500,000.

And how can a young person even think of saving up for a deposit when their rent is skyrocketing and their wages are stagnant? Rental stress is at a record high, and there is no sign of any improvement. Real wages over the past year have fallen 2.1 per cent. So wages are falling, property prices are through the stratosphere and rent has become crippling. I have written to the Minister for Housing about this crisis and specifically regarding the unjust caps on the first home buyers deposit scheme, but I am yet to get a response.

In government, Labor will act to make housing more affordable and less of a burden on Australians. We'll start by establishing a $10 billion off-budget Housing Australia Future Fund to build 20,000 social housing properties and 10,000 affordable housing properties. Australia deserves a government that cares about housing affordability, yet under the coalition the great Australian dream is now impossible to achieve. What a nightmare.