Monday 4 February 2008

Affordable Housing

Douglas Shire Mayor and renown environmental crusader Mike Berwick join our stable of contributors.

Mike was there 25 years ago, right in the middle of the defining Daintree battle. As he enters the last four weeks of his mayorality, he still fiecericely defends his world heritage back yard.

This is my first input into this Blog, in fact any blog! I’ve been reading CairnsBlog but not had time to contribute.

Affordable housing is a complex issue that is not just about the price of land but includes:

    • Cost of infrastructure (headworks and rates)
    • Ongoing cost of running a house eg full airconditioning will cost more in electricity than all council charges combined for a minimal rate category so need for sustainable housing
    • Councils unable to put conditions on developers to contribute to affordable housing – not allowed under IPA
    • Negative gearing - the elephant in the room no one can see. It drives most of the tourism development (all strata titled and negatively geared). The investment house
      is tax deductable, the first house is not, how outrageous is that? It has a huge impact on housing price, I suspect the biggest single driver. Also inflation driver - $15 billion a year from tax revenue to subsidise investment houses (Productivity Commission has done an assessment on this)
    • The size of the house – since the 50’s houses are several times larger but with an average of around two occupants instead of six or seven

Any solution will require a combined effort of local, state and Australian Governments and for them all to co-operate. A big ask but will go nowhere without it

I tried to get a study into the “drivers” of affordable housing into the Regional Planning Advisory Committee but it was dismissed by Minister Fraser. You’d find most housing/tourism development is people’s second and third house. Australia’s coastline is being trashed by over-development, pretty much all driven by negative gearing I suspect – need to understand this better hence my suggestion to RPAC

The Property Council is pushing the simplistic solution of land release and both state and Australian governments seem to have fallen for it. There are studies that disprove this because developers just bank the land.

No doubt growth limits will impact on it but its much more complex and there are solutions
We cannot just keep putting endless housing into the biodiversity and beauty hotspots or we’ll trash them all.

We cannot grow endlessly – there are sustainable limits to growth.

The 6 billion people on the planet use the resources of three planets and consumption continues to grow exponentially. Economic growth does not mean growth in consumption and waste. For example, we can have economic growth without endless growth in bricks and mortar.

Wait for it – the rapacious developers (as opposed to the responsible ones) will say the Queensland Icon Legislation will make housing unaffordable.

As if they ever cared about that before.

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