Housing policy at the 2019 federal election: Coalition’s, Labor’s and Greens’ policies compared
We've objectively compared the housing policies that each of the major political parties is taking to the election.
Australia's next federal election is on Saturday 18 May 2019. And there are policies, proposals and thought bubbles flying left and right. What will these policies mean for home buyers, property investors and renters?
We've presented a simple summary of the policies related to housing and property from the following major parties:
- The Liberal Party (and their coalition partner, the National Party)
- The Australian Labor Party
- The Australian Greens
You can compare a summary of policies in the table below or jump below the table to read a more detailed breakdown of policies on negative gearing, the capital gains tax discount, housing affordability and renters' rights, plus a quick note on our methodology.
Housing policy – a quick summary
Let's break down some of these policies in more detail.
When an investor makes a loss on their investment property (when interest charges and maintenance costs exceed their rental return), they are allowed to offset the loss against their taxable income, reducing their tax bill. This is called negative gearing. The fairness of this rule is a classic Australian property debate.
The Labor Party has been very clear that it plans to unwind negative gearing in 2020 if elected, with an exception for newly-built properties. Investors who currently benefit from negative gearing will not be affected. Labor took a similar policy to the 2016 election.
Within five years, the Greens plan to phase out negative gearing for all future investors and current investors who own two or more investment properties. Current investors with only one investment will be exempt.
The Coalition wants to keep negative gearing exactly as it is. In a recent speech, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg labelled proposed changes to the current status quo as "reckless and punitive."
Critics of negative gearing say it benefits wealthier investors while driving down the number of affordable homes (by making investing more profitable and forcing home buyers to compete with investors).
But there are plenty of people warning against abolishing negative gearing, arguing that many investors who aren't particularly rich receive modest benefits from negative gearing, and that removing negative gearing could cause the housing market to decline more sharply than it already is.
Capital gains tax discount
When you sell an asset (such as a property) and you've held it for 12 months or more, you can get a 50% discount on the capital gains tax that needs to be paid.
You don't pay this tax when you're selling your home, but you do with an investment property. Offering a discount on CGT, like negative gearing, benefits investors.
The Labor Party is proposing to halve the discount from 50% to 25% in the future but keep it in place for current investments. The Greens plan to phase it out by winding it down from 50% to 40% in the first year, to 30% in the second year and so on to zero.
The Coalition plans to leave the 50% discount in place.
There wasn't much on housing affordability in the 2019 budget, but the Coalition points to its First Home Super Saver Scheme, introduced in 2017, as evidence it supports home buyers. And there's the $300 million raised for more social housing.
Labor wants to build 250,000 more affordable rental homes over the next decade for people on lower incomes. It also want to or re-establish government bodies to tackle housing issues, such as the National Housing Supply Council and a federal housing and homelessness minister.
The Greens' "A Home For All" policy aims for similar results to Labor's, but they want to establish a federal housing trust to build 500,000 public and community houses. This trust would issue government loans to states and other organisations to construct homes.
Rights for renters
The Greens have the most detailed policies aimed at helping renters. They're calling for a "national standard for rental homes" which would do the following:
- Prohibit landlords from evicting tenants without reason
- Regulate rent rises to protect tenants
- Boost funding for tenant advocacy services
The Labor Party wants to get better results for renters through National Agreements (agreements between state and federal governments around the delivery of services).
Choice of parties
While many other parties and independents are running in the election, we've limited our comparison to the four parties above because they're the biggest, receiving over 85% of all votes cast at the 2016 election. They have also released the most detailed housing policies.
Where is this policy information coming from?
We've tried to be as objective as we can by outlining details of the policies at face value, taking our information either directly from the policy sections of party websites or recent policy speeches from senior party leaders.
It's worth noting that the short summaries published on party websites are always subject to change, are limited in detail and can never fully represent what a party can actually implement (even if they win a solid majority in both houses of parliament).
If you need some guidance on how to vote in the Senate on 18 May, check out our handy Senate voting card creator.
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