From my first day as opposition leader, I have not hesitated to back good ideas from the NSW Liberal government. Whether it was dealing with COVID, or the national energy package, when they got it right, I backed them in. That’s the way I practice politics, and it’s the right thing to do.
But that support is not a blank cheque, and it doesn’t extend to poorly thought out or half-baked policies, or policies where the Perrottet government has straight out got it wrong. That’s why Labor has developed its own comprehensive plan for housing affordability in NSW and why we will abolish the Perrottet government’s plan to begin charging land tax on the family home.
The reality is over the last 12 years NSW has slowly, but inexorably, spiralled into a devastating housing and rental affordability crisis, with fewer and fewer families having the capacity to buy their own home.
Since 2011, the proportion of households owning their home outright has fallen by about 5 per cent and almost 1.3 million people in NSW are now experiencing housing stress. In 2022, the social housing waiting list increased to 57,550 and the number of priority applicants increased by 12 per cent in one year.
The numbers speak for themselves, but behind the numbers are hundreds of thousands of young families, seniors, essential workers and other hardworking people struggling to find a place to live, and struggling to meet the costs of renting, or buying a home. That’s a failure of policy and a failure of leadership.
After 12 years of missed opportunities to take real action on rental and housing affordability from the Liberal government, Labor has released its own comprehensive plan to help renters find and keep a good place to live and to give aspiring home owners a chance of finally buying their own home.
At the heart of this plan is a commitment from Labor that we will remove or reduce stamp duty for 95 per cent of first home buyers over the next three years. Stamp duty is a difficult hurdle for first home buyers to clear, which is why Labor’s package will give a leg up to 95 per cent of first home buyers, without saddling some unlucky first home buyers with a lifetime tax, which means they will never truly pay off their own home.
Labor’s stamp duty relief package will benefit almost 50,000 additional first home buyers over the next three years, and it doesn’t come with a hidden catch which will saddle family homes with a never-ending tax and create two classes of home owners: some who pay a fixed amount of tax, and some who pay tax on their home forever.
Labor’s comprehensive plan for rental and housing affordability also includes introducing a mandatory requirement for 30 per cent of homes built on surplus government land to be set aside for social, affordable and universal housing, charging the Greater Sydney Commission to review and re-balance population and housing targets around transport infrastructure, creating a Rental Commissioner to advocate for renters, banning the practice of secret rental bidding, implementing a Portable Bond Scheme, and many other measures to help make renting and buying a home in the city, and the regions, fairer and more affordable.
After 12 years, and four Liberal premiers, the people of NSW deserve a united government with the energy and focus to truly make a positive impact on rental and housing affordability, and to do so in a manner that doesn’t create a subclass of home buyers that will never truly own their own home.
Chris Minns is the leader of the NSW Labor Party.
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