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Public Property Developer

Housing is an essential, just like healthcare and education and that means we can’t just leave it to the private market.

But for decades now, both Labor and Liberal governments have pushed us into this housing crisis by funneling billions of public money into the pockets of property developers, investors and the banks.

The Greens plan to establish a public property developer will ensure that people’s right to a good quality home is put ahead of developer profits. 

The public property developer would see the federal government build 610,000 homes over the next ten years. 

These homes would be beautifully designed and well built. While private developers cut corners at every opportunity to maximise their profits, the public developer would be building to a high quality:

  • minimum 8 star energy ratings
  • high ceilings
  • large windows that can open
  • wide corridors
  • spacious rooms with cross-ventilation
  • Beautiful shared spaces, like rooftop and communal gardens.

These photos are of social housing in Europe. The Public Developer could be building beautiful homes like this right here in Australia.

 

These homes would be available for anyone, except those who already own real estate. 30 percent would be available to purchase and 70 percent would be available to rent.

The allocation would prioritise those with connection to the local area, including if they have children enrolled in local schools, work and support services connections, or if they are First Nations peoples. 

These would be homes that build community, where a hospitality worker lives next door to a doctor, who lives next door to a bus driver who lives next door to a single parent. 

These homes would be available to rent and buy at prices people can actually afford. Rents would be capped at 25% of household income and prices to purchase would be just over the cost of construction. The average savings would be $5200 a year for a renter and $260,000 for a first homebuyer!

In a housing crisis, the supply of homes cannot be left up to the private developers who make bigger profits more house prices and rents go up. 

We know this plan is possible, because it’s what the government did after World War Two. In 1945, the government directly built 26 percent of all homes nationally. 

 

More beautiful social housing in Europe! 

The Greens public developer would sit under a new Federal Department of Sustainable Cities, Development and Housing, which would employ town planners, architects and project managers and get the government back in the business of building good homes. The public developer would work with state governments and local councils to ensure public transport connections, parks and health and education infrastructure. 

This policy has been costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office - who found that once taking into account rental and sales revenue, this plan would only cost $27.9 billion over the decade. For context this year alone total property investor tax breaks will cost the Federal Budget $39 billion. 

This plan is entirely possible. But what it requires is political will!

 

Frequently asked questions 

Aren't there material and workforce shortages?

During the pandemic there were high levels of construction activity due to low interest rates. This increased construction activity meant there were material shortages. Since then, the levels of construction have significantly reduced. Now we are seeing decade low building starts as developers choose not to build as financing is too expensive. Not because they don't have the workforce or the materials. Instead they are choosing to leave valuable land empty to build when it is more profitable to do so.

Part of the problem of the housing crisis we are facing is that housing construction works on a boom and bust cycle. Because of this, there is no planning ahead to guarantee long-term supply chains for materials, it also means there is no job security for the construction workforce, so many leave the industry 

Now is actually the perfect time for the government to step in and provide public investment in housing and create certainty in the construction industry. 

 

Where will you get the land from? Will you force people or businesses to sell their land?

The costing of the Greens' Public Property Developer policy done by the Parliamentary Budget Office assumed paying full market rate for the land the public developments would be built on. 

However, right now across the country, under the recommendation of National Cabinet, state governments are selling off and privatising large amounts of public land. For example, in Victoria the state Labor government is selling off 2600 hectares of public land. Instead of privatising all of this public land for the benefit of developers profit margins, the Greens would prioritise use of this land to build and develop beautiful, well-designed homes to rent and buy for cheap.

 

Didn’t you say that supply isn’t the issue?

We need to build homes that ordinary people can afford. We don’t need more luxury penthouses. 

Almost all housing in Australia is privately developed, this allows private developers to set house prices at whatever they want. The higher house prices and rents are, the more money developers and the banks make.

 

Won’t buyers just sell these homes on the private market for a big profit?

No - homes built under this program would only be allowed to be resold back to the government at the cost price + inflation. 

 

Why should people with high wages be able to access these homes?

The homes built by the public developer would be accessible for anyone who doesn't already own real estate and would prioritise people who have connections to the local area. As a society we have decided that health and education are such essential parts of having a good life in Australia that we provide public options for them.  Where any Australian, regardless of their income, can use the emergency department at a public hospital. We think that having a roof over your head is just as essential to having a good life as healthcare and education. Having a public option means we can stop the price gouging that private developers get away with at the moment.