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Federal budget ignored ‘housing crisis’: Greens

Federal budget ignored ‘housing crisis’: Greens

The federal government is “out of touch” and should have addressed housing affordability in the 2018-19 budget, according to the Australian Greens.

The political party has criticised the federal government for ignoring the “housing crisis” in the 2018-19 federal budget.

“The Turnbull government is so out of touch they may actually think the housing crisis is over,” said Greens senator Lee Rhiannon on Wednesday (9 May).

Ms Rhiannon’s remarks followed the passing of a joint motion from the Greens and the Australian Labor Party, which called for increased funding for social housing and homelessness.

The senator cited data from an Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot, which noted that 6 per cent of surveyed rental properties nationwide were affordable and appropriate for households on government income support payments, while less than a third (28 per cent) of rental properties were ‘suitable’.

Ms Rhiannon also cited 2016 Census data, which revealed that 116,000 were experiencing homelessness on Census night.

The motion called on the government to:

  • Provide real support for people who are homeless by increasing the real level of funding for homelessness services and social housing; and
  • Work with the states, territories and relevant non-government organisations to set national minimum tenancy standards to ensure that tenants’ rights are protected in relation to matters including fairer processes around lease terminations and evictions, fair standards to govern the amounts by which rents can be increased and provide for long-term residential leases that enable households the full enjoyment of a secure home.

“The government failed to raise real levels of funding for homelessness services and social housing. That is a slap in the face considering they’ve found billions of dollars to dish out to big companies and the rich,” the senator added.

“We desperately need more social housing that guarantees affordability by charging rent as a proportion of income.

“We also need to reform unfair tax breaks and strengthen rights for renters in the private market. These measures will go a long way to ensuring everyone has a home.”

The Honourable Scott Morrison MP, Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, released the Budget 2018–19 on Tuesday evening (8 May), outlining the measures that the Turnbull government will take in the year 2018–19.

Among the main initiatives in the budget were tax relief for low and middle-income earners, including a new non-refundable low and middle-income tax offset (delivered on assessment after an individual submits their tax return) and an increase of the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000 from 1 July 2018.

Further, should the government still be in power in 2024, it will increase the top threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $120,000 to $200,000, removing the 37 per cent tax bracket completely.

Treasurer Scott Morrison said that this would help Australians with “cost of living pressures while being fiscally responsible”.

There was little in the budget for housing, aside from a confirmation that the measures to unlock the supply of affordable housing remain “on track”, including the establishment of the $1 billion National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation and the release of more land suitable for housing.

In a bid to free up more land for housing, the government has said that it will deny deductions for expenses associated with holding vacant land “to address concerns that deductions are being improperly claimed for expenses, such as interest costs, related to holding vacant land, where the land is not genuinely held for the purpose of earning assessable income”.

The budget outlined that the government will also reduce tax incentives for land banking, which deny the use of land for housing or other development.

This measure will take effect from 1 July 2019.

Looking at improving housing affordability, the government recommitted to establishing the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) by 1 July 2018.

This will comprise the Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator and the $1 billion National Housing Infrastructure Facility.

However, the government did reveal that the new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement will commence from 1 July 2018 and provide $7 billion in housing funding and an additional $620 million for homelessness services over the next five years.

According to the government, this will ensure that funding for homelessness services will be ongoing and indexed.

Additionally, the government will provide $550 million over five years from 2018–19 for a new agreement on remote housing with the Northern Territory government to help alleviate overcrowding and improve employment and business opportunities in remote communities.

This commitment will be matched by funding from the Northern Territory government.

[Related: Budget 2018–19 released]

Federal budget ignored ‘housing crisis’: Greens
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