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Speech on affordable housing

On Thursday 7 March 2024, I gave a speech about the housing crisis. You can read my speech below, or in the official record of Parliamentary Proceedings (Hansard) here.

The doors are closing on the possibility of countless Queenslanders ever owning their own home. Last year the cost of rent in Queensland continued to surge at twice the rate of inflation. House prices grew three times faster than wages, leaving hundreds of thousands of renters stuck paying off someone else's mortgage and putting a deposit for their own first home forever out of reach. Labor, the LNP and their so-called property experts, who I am increasingly convinced are just two property developers in a trench coat on each other's shoulders, say they want big change, but all they are offering is more of the same—the same private market, trickle-down economics housing policy that has failed us for decades. Labor and the LNP have gutted public housing and gifted the landed gentry with tax concessions, handouts and the reins to our planning system. They have only succeeded in driving up the cost of housing.

Capital gains tax concessions, negative gearing and handouts to property developers go straight into bidding up the price of real estate. When property developers know that Labor and the LNP are going to facilitate higher profits on prospective development sites, do they really think they sit around their boardroom saying to each other, ‘That's fantastic. There's some more money we can give back to the renters and homebuyers'? I do not think so.

That is the fantasy, though, that Labor and the LNP want renters to believe. Real estate moguls make massive windfall gains from these policies, and in the long run this public money is sucked up by rising land values which adjust to the increase in expected profits—rising land values that increase the cost of housing and encourage land banking. The founder and director of property developer Meriton lays this strategy out explicitly—

I am holding a lot more than I am selling at the moment, and as the value of property goes up, the value of what I have kept rises.

You can always count on one scumbag to say the quiet bit out loud, can't you? The only thing that has reliably worked in this country to reduce rents—

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin): Pause the clock. Member, I will ask you to withdraw that unparliamentary language.

Mr BERKMAN: I withdraw. The only thing that has reliably worked in this country to reduce rents and boost home ownership is public development and keeping a leash on the greed of the private sector. In the postwar period, Australian state and federal governments built one in seven new houses, froze rapidly rising rents and in less than two decades halved the number of people renting from private landlords. Labor tells us it has delivered just 5,000 social homes since 2015. If it was instead building housing at the rate of our 20th century governments, it would have built 46,000 homes.

The Greens are the only party that are willing to back public development of new housing at this scale. Labor and the LNP continue to gift developers huge tax and planning concessions, repeating the same failed policy of the last 30 years, putting renters in crisis and money in the pockets of those who need it least. Meanwhile, the Greens are the only party willing to fight back against greedy developers with a housing policy that is proven to work.

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