The current election campaign has seen the two major parties put forward housing policies, both of which to varying degrees are aimed at the demand side of the equation.
The problem is that for many decades, housing policies have overwhelmingly been geared toward increasing demand within the private-sector housing market. This has only served to pump prices and make it harder for first-home buyers to enter the market, and also increasing the age that people are buying their first home.
Policy Director, Greg Jericho, writes in a column for Guardian Australia, that we need to instead focus on the supply side – increasing the stock of housing – and we also need to be bold enough to look outside the typical private-sector model.
The Australia Institute’s Nordic Policy Centre has proposed a number of measures that have been pursued in Norway, Sweden and Finland that show the solution to housing affordability is not about creating tax distortions that benefit homeowners or which serve only to transfer money from low-income people to the wealthy, but instead treats housing as a need rather than just a wealth-building asset.
After decades of failure, the solution to housing affordability needs to be something other than more policies designed to lift housing prices.