AFFORDABLE: Are places like the Kollective in Sunrise the answer for affordable medium density housing.
AFFORDABLE: Are places like the Kollective in Sunrise the answer for affordable medium density housing. Christian Morrow

ELECTION 2016: Richmond candidates address affordable housing and negative gearing.

IN the lead-up to the Federal Election on July 2, the Byron Shire News will ask the four candidates for the seat of Richmond about a variety of issues.

This week’s question is about affordable housing and the vexed question to negatively gear or not:

There are many people on the North Coast and especially in the Byron Shire who cannot find affordable rental accommodation. Buying a first home here is also out of reach for many, with housing prices in the shire rivalling those of Sydney and Melbourne.

Would limiting negative gearing and reducing the capital gains tax discount produce more affordable housing? If so, how would these changes achieve this? If not, what can be done to make sure there is more affordable housing made available for buyers and renters?

Anglicare Australia’s Rental Affordability Snapshot showed a lack of appropriate and affordable rental accommodation on the North Coast of NSW... and the downward trend of affordable housing for low income earners across the region had dropped by 6%.

Even more concerning, of the 44 properties surveyed in Byron Bay, there wasn’t one affordable house for low income earners.

Northern Rivers Social Development Council CEO Tony Davies said: “There are three local government areas in the Richmond electorate that are the most expensive rental markets outside metropolitan areas and of the three Byron Bay is the most expensive.”

He believes that negative gearing and capital gains discounts were “encouraging property speculation and driving up property prices, encouraging people to buy up properties to maximise gains”.

“To maintain the intrinsic qualities of Byron Bay and not turn the area into a suburban sprawl then the answer may be to provide more high density housing, closer to schools and services, to create a ‘walkable’ town,” he said.

Given that rental is often a first step to ownership, the prospect of buying a first home in the area is even more unlikely. Mr Davies pointed to medium density developments such as the Kollective at Sunrise, designed and developed by KoHo.

“What is needed is a partnership between Federal, State and local government to put planning systems and incentives in place that support affordable and better housing development.”

Labor- Justine Elliot

THE current arrangements for negative gearing are pushing investors into the market for existing properties. This means people looking to break into the market are at a disadvantage – because investors are being subsidised by the taxpayers, while other buyers are not and this fuels housing un- affordability in places like the North Coast.

“From July 1, 2017, Labor will limit negative gearing to new properties. This will encourage investment in construction of new homes, which will increase the supply of housing and improve affordability. It will stimulate jobs in construction. This policy is fair because it will not impact on existing property owners, or people who use negative gearing for business purposes.

Greens- Dawn Walker

It’s now far too hard for first home buyers and renters to find quality housing in the Northern Rivers. People on low-incomes are being excluded from communities that were once known for their diversity because there is no social housing available.  

The Greens’ National Housing Affordability Plan includes phasing out the over-generous negative gearing and capital gains tax discount arrangements. We released Parliamentary Budget Office costings that show abolishing the capital gains tax discount and grandfathering negative gearing would save us $127.1 billion over ten years. Negative gearing overwhelmingly benefits wealthy investors, and drives up prices for everyone.  

Nationals- Matthew Fraser

AS A local with a young family, I know how hard people work to own their own home. Unfortunately, abolishing negative gearing and increasing CGT isn’t the answer. By smashing demand for investment properties, those that have worked all their lives to own their own home will see the value of their hard-earned property drop. Likewise, as the supply of investment properties decreases, prices will rise for families who rent.

We must remember that the vast majority of people who use negative gearing aren’t millionaires. Instead, we should be focusing on fostering sustainable growth of the housing and construction sector to meet local demand.

One Nation- Neil Smith

THERE are a couple of reasons why housing and rentals are unaffordable for a lot of people. First, the high standard of living we have in this country leads to builders constructing high standard detached homes instead of low-cost community housing which the government should be funding. Second, overseas buyers, particularly Chinese, have bumped up the prices that sellers can expect and no-one is trying to control this.

As far as the effects of negative gearing and capital gains tax, I have to say, in all honesty, that I don't know. Even the experts are arguing. One opinion from Turnbull, another from Shorten and yet another from John Symond from Aussie Home Loans.

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