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Tackling the Housing Crisis

Quick link: Have your say on the Greens' proposal to convert the Eagle Farm Racecourse into a new housing hub and thriving community suburb

A safe and affordable home is an essential service and key to living a life with dignity. In a wealthy country like Australia everybody should have a secure home. 

Yet, right now rents and mortgages are rising at staggering rates, forcing an increasing number of people in this country into poverty. Here in Brisbane have climbed a staggering 45% in just 2 years. Meanwhile, it’s never been harder to buy a home- and with renters paying over $105,550 per household in rent it’s near impossible to save for a deposit.

The Greens are the only party fighting to make renting and housing cheaper. We are determined to end Australia’s shameful housing and homelessness crisis. 

On the other hand, Labor and the LNP are only interested in  protecting the profits of big developers, rich investors and banks. Over the last 50 years successive Liberal and Labor governments have implemented policies that have made it harder and harder for everyday people to afford a home and instead made it easier for banks and big property investors to get rich.

The Greens want everyone to have a safe and affordable home where they can put down roots, and build a strong community. 

At every level of government, we are fighting for real solutions to the housing crisis. In 2023 we were able to secure $3 billion for urgently needed public housing, which is already being rolled out across the country and represents the biggest investment in public housing in more than a decade - but this is just the start. 

Here’s how the Greens would tackle the housing crisis:


1. Freeze rent increases and implement long-term rent caps

We need to stop unlimited rent increases that are forcing people out of their homes and communities. 

The Greens would: 

  • Freeze rents at their January 2023 levels for two years
  • Create ongoing caps after that
  • Apply these protections to the property, not the tenancy - so that tenants can’t be kicked out to jack up rents.

Over the past five years renters have paid on average $105,550 per household in rent. Renters in Australia are too often caught in a cruel trap, where they can’t afford to buy a house, but are left paying almost a housing deposit worth of rent every five years, putting the prospect of ever owning a home only further out of reach. 

Renters across the country are being relentlessly slammed with unfair rental increases, and because of Australia’s weak rental laws, are routinely forced to accept increases of any amount, or risk homelessness. From June 2022-2023 renters were slogged with $3 billion dollars in increases. A freeze on rental increases is a temporary measure to give renters immediate relief while we make the other big changes we need. 

What’s more, is that rent increases are a key driving factor of inflation. This means that rental increases are driving up the cost of living for everyone. A freeze on rental increases will benefit the whole economy and make it easier to get inflation under control.

In 2023 the Greens fought tooth and nail to secure a freeze on rent increases. We established a national Senate inquiry into the rental crisis, that received over 16,000 submissions and got renters rights on the National Cabinet agenda. Labor holds every seat on the mainland on National Cabinet, they had the opportunity to freeze and cap rent increases but they refused. Every rent increase from that moment on is on Labor, who had the opportunity to do something but didn’t.

Renters voice and vote is powerful, when we are organised, there’s no limit to what we can win. 

2. Give renters real rights

Across the country renters need real rights. It is crucial that renters have protections that can be enforced, so their homes are safe from the climate crisis and that renting can be seen as a secure long-term option. 

The Greens would:

  • Genuinely end no-grounds evictions, including at the end of a fixed term lease. We think grounds for eviction must be clearly defined and limited, with a requirement for a landlord to prove to the tribunal that the ground can be established.  
  • Implement a presumed right to longer-leases.
  • Implement minimum quality standards covering ventilation, heating, cooling and insulation, sufficient for a changing climate.

Right now Australia has some of the worst rental protections amongst similarly developed countries. We desperately need national tenancy standards to protect the millions of renters forced to put up with homes that are freezing cold in winter and boiling in summer, riddled with mould, cracks in the walls, plumbing and electrical faults, and living with constant uncertainty about when they’ll have to move and no long-term security.

As house prices keep going up, more people are renting for life. Right now renters are treated as second class citizens, at the hands of the housing system that favours profits over renters rights to a home. That’s why we need strong, enforceable rights. 

3. Phase out unfair tax concessions for property investors

Tax concessions for property investors like negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts are turbo charging the housing crisis. They make it easier for an investor to buy their 10th property, drive up property prices and deprive the government of revenue that could be put to work building housing for those who need it. 

In 2023-24, the government will give only 2.2 million property investors $38.9 billion dollars in tax concessions. Over the next decade these tax concessions will cost the Australian budget half a trillion dollars.

The Greens would: 

  • Immediately abolish the 50% capital gains discount for individuals for assets held for more than 12 months
  • Phase out the deductibility for all investment property interest expenses against personal income for individuals with more than one investment property purchased before 1 July 2023 over a 5-year period

Did you know that property investors can write off all of the interest they pay on their mortgage on their taxable income? Meanwhile, renters (who are more affected by cost of living increases) are often told that their rent had to go up because of their landlord’s increased interest expenses.  

Negative gearing sounds complex but it’s not. It’s a tax policy that means landlords can write off their expenses, including interest on their mortgage, land tax, rates and maintenance. When a property is negatively geared investors can deduct these expenses off their other income, like their salary. 

The capital gains tax discount means investors get 50% of the profits made when they sell their property tax free. For example, if a property is sold for $200,000 more than it was purchased for, the investor would only pay tax on $100,000 of the profits. This is deeply unfair for those who only rely on taxed wages.

4. Massive investment in public housing

Instead of handing out tax cuts to big developers, governments should directly build homes that residents can rent cheaply. During a housing crisis, the construction and delivery of housing should not be reliant on a property developer being able to return a profit. Throughout Australia’s history, and all across the world, public housing has been used as an effective and important investment to provide residents with housing and regulate the housing market. Yet in recent decades, Labor and the LNP have systematically underfunded and sold off public housing stock. 

The Greens would:

  • Immediately stop the sell-off and neglect of public housing. 
  • Spend billions annually to build new public housing at all levels of government, including Council 
  • Ensure new public housing is well located, well-designed and available for people on low incomes to live alongside essential workers

Public housing in Australia has been systematically underfunded and sold off. It now only makes up 3.8% of total housing in Australia. This means the property industry can capitalise on their near monopoly of housing because renters will prioritise housing expenses above almost all other expenses. 

With significant investment in public housing, the government can provide a genuine alternative to the private rental market, just like they did in the past, which will bring rental and house prices down.

Here's some of the locations I've proposed investigating in Griffith to build public and genuinely affordable housing.

5. End homelessness

In a wealthy country like Australia, it is unacceptable that over 122,000 people were homeless on Census night in 2021. This is caused by the significant underinvestment of public housing and the lack of affordable private rentals. With soaring rent increases and chronic underinvestment in public housing from Labor and Liberal governments, we know that since 2021 homelessness would have surged, so perhaps the most alarming thing is that there are now far more than 122,000 people across the country being forced to sleep rough as a result of government failure. 

The Greens would:

  • End homelessness by massively investing in public housing to slash public housing waitlists 
  • Fully fund specialist homelessness services that utilise a ‘housing first’ model and can provide hands on support and wrap around services to get vulnerable people into housing, and provide long-term support to ensure tenancies are long-term and appropriate for the individual’s needs.
  • Freeze rental increases, so more people and families aren’t evicted into homelessness. 

The Greens in 2023 were successfully able to help reverse Labor’s decision to cut funding for frontline homelessness services in the budget, but right now Labor have no meaningful long term plan to end homelessness.  

Ending homelessness is a political choice that Labor and the LNP have decided not to make.

6. Cracking down on Airbnb-style Short-Term Rental Accommodation

Airbnb and other short term rental accommodation is causing thousands of homes to be taken off the long-term rental market. While they aren’t the fundamental cause of Australia’s housing crisis, returning homes which were converted into short-term accommodation back to local residents would immediately make hundreds of existing homes available to locals who are struggling to find a rental.

The Greens in Brisbane City Council would: 

  • Ban entire dwellings being used as short-term accommodation for more than 45 days per year, except for purpose-built units in close proximity to areas where short-term accommodation is clearly needed, such as major tourist attractions, business hubs, hospitals and public transport nodes.

This would lead to hundreds of dwellings transitioning from Airbnb back to long-term rentals, and would also send a message to investors that the city wants more residential housing, not more Airbnb. This means fewer renters would be evicted due to investors turning their homes into Airbnb hotels.

7. Require developers to deliver public housing in every new development

Building more luxury, unaffordable apartments in the inner-city doesn’t fix the housing crisis; it drives up rents, and kicks working people out of their neighbourhoods. 

That’s why the Greens in Queensland have proposed requiring property developers to reserve one in four properties as public housing in all new multi-residential projects.

By requiring property developers to set aside apartments as public housing, we can provide good quality homes for thousands of people, slash the public housing waitlist, and make sure we have diverse and liveable inner-city neighbourhoods. Working class people and families shouldn’t consistently get pushed further away from the city. 

Amy MacMahon has introduced a bill in Queensland Parliament to mandate inclusionary zoning. 

By requiring property developers to set aside one in four new apartments as public housing, we can provide good quality homes for thousands of Queenslanders, cut down the social-housing waitlist, and make sure we have diverse and liveable inner-city neighbourhoods.

8. Implement a Vacancy Levy on empty homes

Rental vacancy rates are at record lows across Queensland. The situation is so dire that many families have no choice but to sleep in cars or tents. Meanwhile, 87,000 homes across Queensland are sitting empty. Wealthy property investors are also turfing out long-term tenants to rent apartments on Airbnb as well as land banking sites perfect for new housing for years to profit on the unearned increase in value of land.

For many wealthy investors, they get far more money from rising property values than they do from rents. For decades, successive state and Federal governments have propped up a housing system that makes it profitable to leave a house empty rather than rent it out.

That’s why the Greens would implement an empty homes levy on investors who deliberately leave properties empty. By making it costly to leave a property empty, the Levy will put tens of thousands of homes back on the rental market. Introduce a 5% levy on the value of any residential property that has been vacant for six months in a year.

The Greens in Queensland would:

  • Introduce a 5% levy on the value of any residential property that has been vacant for six months in a year.
  • Introduce a 5% levy on the value of any undeveloped land left vacant for six months in a year if that land is suitable for building residential properties.

For example, an owner with an empty apartment worth $400,000 would have to pay an annual levy of $20,000. This would encourage the owner to find a tenant or sell that apartment to someone who will.

The Greens have also proposed a vacancy tax on all residential and commercial property in Brisbane at the City Council levy. 

Labor, the LNP and property industry lobbyists claim that real estate is expensive because there are ‘too many restrictions’ on private-sector supply. Meanwhile, the property industry is wasting valuable homes, shops and blocks of land by leaving them sitting vacant.


An example of the Greens vision for housing in Brisbane

Brisbane doesn’t need two massive race courses - but we do urgently need more affordable housing close to public transport and services. Learn more about the proposal here and have your say on this proposal here.

We propose five-storey buildings, with ground-floor shops, offices and services. These homes would be built alongside the newly-upgraded Ascot train station and along a new free, high-frequency bus route that runs through the middle of the site. 

Our plan would create 4000 publicly-owned rent-capped homes for 10 000 residents, with 

  • 2000 homes designated as public housing and rented to people on lower incomes who are at higher risk of homelessness, and
  • 2000 homes available to any Brisbane resident and assigned by lottery, rented out at below-market rent.

Building 4000 publicly-owned homes would be the single biggest affordable housing project in Queensland’s history.

By comparison, the Queensland Labor government managed to build just 380 public homes in all of Queensland in 2021-22. In the eight years since 2016, the Queensland Labor government has added fewer than 2000 social housing homes. Meanwhile, Brisbane City Council has given up on directly building any public or affordable homes. The Greens want to turn this around.

A vibrant mix of low-income and middle-income families would share the new neighbourhood, all enjoying the benefits of direct access to high-quality public services. 

The homes would be developed by Council or other public agencies using public or private building contractors, and would remain in public ownership thereafter. This would allow Council and the State government to keep costs down by cutting out profit-hungry private developers. It would also ensure that apartments aren’t snapped up by greedy property investors and financial speculators. 

Developing public homes on public land also means private developers can't artificially restrict supply to keep rents and prices high.