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by necessity

Policies

 

Housing

 

The housing crisis needs to be tackled from the top down. House prices need to fall, housing exploitation needs to end - and the right policies can achieve both of these things. House prices are over 30% above the historic average in Australia (relative to earnings), and we should aim to lower them by 30% in high stress areas like greater Hobart. This does not have to happen in a single year, falls of around 8% a year would not be inappropriate.

 

The focus on bandaid measures at the bottom end of the market is only a recipe for continued housing stress, keeping people on the edge of ruin and creating a massive bureaucratic and charity burden. The free market approach to housing urgently needs to come to an end, which means the introduction of heavy regulations.

 

The housing crisis at the top end can be tackled by three major policies

 

1) Impose a massive stamp duty on existing home purchases by investor buyers, such as a 100% rate. The aim of this is to tax investors out of the market. If they still buy, the stamp duty can be used to build additional public housing. With investors out of the market, one of the biggest drivers of house price inflation will be removed.

 

2) Put a cap on rents. There is no doubt that gross price gouging is taking place, with landlords capitalising on the housing crisis by increasing rents by unjustified amounts. It needs to come to an end by imposition of a cap on rents at existing levels. The problem is so bad in some areas, that legislation to force rents down by about 25% in parts of Tasmania should be considered too.

 

3) Abandon the race to massively increase Tasmania's population. While immigration rates are a federal matter, the Tasmanian government is taking credit for Tasmania's rising population. The state government is directly encouraging mainlanders to move here, as many as possible, with a shockingly high population target of 650 000 by 2050. This is utter madness, pure neoliberalism, and the madness needs to come to an end. The state government should also lobby Canberra for an immigration cut in the 10s of percent, to further lessen the demand for housing nationally. This does not mean a cut to refugee intake.

 

At the acute, immediate, end of the problem there is FAR more Tasmania can do. We should:

 

1) Build, in a rapid timescale, cabin/caravan park style accomodation centers to house the homeless and soon-to-be homeless. If South Australia and Tesla can build a state of the art battery plant in months, initiated by a single tweet, then surely Tasmania can build basic cabins as a response to acute homelessness. If necessary sports grounds can be repurposed for this role.

 

2) Ban entire home holiday-rentals.This will immediately make thousands of houses across the state available to put on the market for locals to inhabit. Exceptions could be made for low-stress areas, but we should not err on the side of under-reaction. It's patently ridiculous that neither the government, nor the opposition took this to the 2018 election as an urgent policy

 

3) At the council level, scrap laws that prevent people from living in caravan's on their own land without an expensive permit.

 

 

Owner-builder red tape.

 

The red-tape for owner builders is immense, and needs to be seriously addressed. This will be a long and painful task but we have to start. We need to allow people to take responsibity for themselves and their own structures, especially in country areas, so long as they are not hurting anyone else in the process. While its possible some mistakes will be made, overall it's better than being homeless.

 

1 Review and cut red tape that complicates and delays basic construction of granny flats/tiny homes or basic single storey house extensions. This is a complicated exercise due to different tiers of government and residential zones. Examples of requirements that should be considered for scrapping include:

  • requirement to hire a qualified designer for basic single storey designs (this does not mean designs don't need to comply with other laws)
  • requirement for an energy efficiency review/inspection
  • requirement for full building plan for small structures in remote areas
  • requirement for licensed electrician to do trivial work
  • requirement for owner builder's to complete a course before starting work
  • requirement for soil testing report for level blocks
  • council fees for minor extension work
  • structural integrity report for minor single storey structures
  • septic tank plumbing report for remote areas

 

2) There should be a debate on abolishing local councils, at least from rural areas, or removing all development regulatory power from them.

 

Other housing policies

 

Once the above policies begin to bite, house price deflation (and rent deflation) will occur. There won't be any need for a first home buyers grant. This grant is inflationary anyway, and it also ignores the fact that some people's lives take a bad turn, and they need to start again after once owning a home in the past. The first home buyers grant essentially results in the government handing over public money to real estate investors.So, the first home buyers grant should be scrapped once other policy measures have been introduced.

 

Public housing should be, wherever possible, integrated into otherwise private housing areas. A concentration of economically stressed people into dedicated public housing suburbs has historically lead to high local crime, including arson which is the destruction of the very properties we need, and a decreased quality of life for residents. We should also learn from the other mistakes of past public housing suburbs including street layout, house design and orientation etc.

 

Housing estate development: all new housing estates must have a minimum percentage, at least 10%, of properties dedicated to public housing. The developers should bear some of the cost burden of this.

 

High and medium density housing should be developed in preferrence to urban sprawl. While high buildings are not always pretty, they are far less ugly than a housing estate spread out over a previously beautiful or fertile field. Other benefits of high density housing include lower travel times, less trafic congestion and road expenditure and higher flexibility for owners (no garden to maintain when away).

 

The development of Macquarie point should include a significant number of new homes (enough for at least 2000 people), in the form of high density housing. The site is 9.3 acres in size and high buildings in this location do not impact significantly on other residential areas, its an ideal place for some housing to be built. The idea the entire site should be dedicated to a tourism or 'cultural' purpose is a sick bourgeoisie fantasy. This is not to say that the entire area should be dedicated to housing, but some of it should be. This will give an excellent accommodation base for people who need to work in central Hobart. As outlined above, a set portion of these homes should be public housing.

 

There are opportunities for land grants in country areas, and this shouldn't be discounted, especially since there are people permanently camping in the bush to avoid high rents. This would require re-zoning of small areas of public land, and homes to be built would need to be energy and water independent. With the right plan and the right people, land grants could be a great success, and take some pressure off existing residential areas.

 

Federally, the commercial banks should be forced to apply interest rates on home loans at less than 0.5% above the federal reserve rate.

 

A state run credit union should be established to offer interest free loans to selected individuals for the purchase or construction of modest homes. This could be done in Tasmania, without federal government involvement.

 

Deposit requirement is a major problem for rent payers, who struggle to both pay rent and save for a deposit simultaneously. A solid rental history should serve as an indicator of the ability to meet a regular financial obligation. While deposit free loans should usually be avoided, to help Tasmanians escape the rental trap - a deposit free loan scheme for vetted individuals for moderate value properties only should be considered. However, it would be wise to initiate a correction of the market first.

 

 

 

Foreign Policy

 

Tasmania has opportunities to address Canberra's faults

 

Tasmania should establish an office of international law mandated to provide free and non-binding advice to Tasmanian members of the ADF. This advice will cover the legality of proposed overseas deployments being ordered or considered by Canberra. When not advising the ADF the office can work on matters of international law in relation to Tasmania or in assisting others internationally. The office would be small and consist, for example, of a senior legal expert with expertise in international law, a research assistant, and a secretary.