Looking at the register of pecuniary interests, one can’t help but notice the number of politicians with more than one property. Actually, when you look at the number of properties, it’s tempting to suggest that were they all required to divest themselves of all real estate investments, then that’d go more than halfway toward solving the “supply” problem that the Liberals suggest is the reason for high prices.
Of course, to suggest that it’s all a supply problem overlooks the demand side of the equation. Ever since non-landholders were granted the vote a couple of centuries back, the poor have grown more demanding and now most of them seem to think that they require houses, even in the more temperate areas of Australia. Thankfully, there are some who are content to be homeless even if they make the streets untidy. Personally, I think our Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce (doesn’t sound so absurd if you say, US President Donald Trump!) hit the nail on the head when he suggested that people should quit their jobs and move to his electorate so that they could afford a house… Assuming that they could get another job in an area where unemployment is so high.
But I didn’t start writing because I had a solution to the problem. Like the Liberals, I think it’s enough to point out Bill’s shortcomings… (Mm, Shorten’s Shortcomings! I may be able to sell them that one. They seem to have run out clever catch-phrases lately. I mean, “clean coal” is an oxymoron and makes about as much sense as “dry water” or “right-wing think tank”. They haven’t had anything like “jobs and growth” or “Innovation rules, ok” for over a year!)
The big problem with the policy Labor took to the last election is that only allowing negative gearing on new construction is that it would bring down the price of houses. And this won’t help affordability. Why not? Well, it just won’t. Have I done any economic modelling? There’s no need for economic modelling because it’ll either just confirm what I already know, or else it won’t have taken into consideration other factors like the fact that it doesn’t confirm the assumptions that I started with.
If housing prices come down, then the value of the politicians’ property portfolio would drop by millions of dollars. And they’d feel poor, making them vulnerable to corruption. So by keeping property values high, then we’re helping to ensure the integrity of the Parliament. In fact, recently some politicians suggested that by giving people access to their superannuation, we could help push prices even higher and therefore our MPs would have even less incentive to accept a bribe.
But really the problem is now solved. The crackdown on 457 visas means that no longer will we have goat farmers, blacksmiths and various other occupations coming over and buying up all our houses so that they can use them to strike their spouses, practise female circumcision and deny their families Australian values.
Hopefully this doesn’t cause too much of drop in demand. I’d hate anything to reduce the wealth of our politicians, but I guess, if that were to happen, Malcolm would have a solution. If not, I’m sure Tony would have an idea he’d be happy to share.
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