You can be pretty sure that Michael Sukkar will never be homeless. That is because, as of May 2022, he owned three properties.
You might be interested to learn that he was, for several years, our man tasked with addressing homelessness in Australia.
He was appointed to the ministry in 2017, by Malcolm Turnbull. He was the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, with special responsibility for “addressing housing affordability”.
In February 2017 he was asked about his area of special responsibility, that being ‘housing affordability’. He responded this way:
“We’re also enabling young people to get highly paid jobs, which is the first step to buying a house,” he said.
There can be many ways to tackle housing affordability, but it would be difficult to find one which is more obfuscatory, or vague, or even misleading.
Here is a former assistant to the treasurer, a man with a commerce degree, and he thinks that increasing the income of potential buyers will address the problem of housing affordability.
A quick google search provides some alternatives, although he might not like the source. The Grattan Institute suggests some solutions:
“The Federal Government can improve housing affordability by reducing demand. It should reduce the capital gains tax discount from 50 per cent to 25 per cent; abolish negative gearing; and include owner-occupied housing in the Age Pension assets test. Housing will also become more affordable if more homes are built.”
Economics is often called the “dismal science”, but there are some maxims which have stood the test of time. “Supply and demand” in simple terms, means if you want to lower the price of an asset, increase the supply of the asset.
Far be it from me to tell a former assistant treasurer how to address housing affordability, but perhaps a small return to his old textbooks might serve to refresh his memory.
It would be useful to remember who he was assisting. Scott Morrison was the Treasurer at the time, and so it can be imagined that the pair of them often sat up, late into the night, discussing the best way to make homes more affordable to the common people.
It is difficult to know whether Scott Morrison’s belief in the prosperity gospel won out over economic orthodoxy, or was Michael Sukkar channeling Joe Hockey, who was famous for his own solution to the housing crisis.
You must remember that, when he advised first-home buyers to find a “good job that pays good money”. They must employ the same speech-writer.
So many mentors, so little actual sense.
Michael Sukkar eventually became a minister
In December 2020, Sukkar, who had earlier supported Peter Dutton against Malcolm Turnbull in their leadership tussle, was forgiven by Morrison, and promoted. His new roles included the roles of Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing and Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing.
This was a shock to many, because he had consistently voted against making life easier for those who were doing it tough.
This included voting against capping gas prices, federal action on public housing, increasing access to JobKeeper payments, increasing housing affordability, increasing the age pension, and he even voted against treating the Covid vaccine rollout as a matter of urgency.
As a matter of fact, he also voted for drug testing of welfare recipients.
What does he do now?
Should you, dear reader, take comfort from the fact that these people are no longer in power, remember this. Michael Sukkar is currently the shadow minister for these three portfolios.
Shadow Minister for Social Services
Shadow Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness.
So, notwithstanding Mr Sukkar’s voting record, and his extreme social conservatism, it is likely that he would retain these portfolios if the Coalition was to regain power. That should be enough to keep you up at night.
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