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Not everybody can be a star, Michael Sukkar

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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23 comments

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  1. Clakka

    Thanks for the heads-up,

    Yet another horror story lurking in the shadows that is the LNP.

  2. frances

    A concise cautionary tale, thank you.

  3. Katie

    My God, fancy this self-obsessed, smug, neoliberal capitalist being the Shadow Minister for Housing and the Homeless! Putting such an unsympathetic capitalist in charge of making homes “more affordable” for working- and middle-class Australians is as condescending as it is short-sighted! Putting such an avaricious neoliberal right-wing extremist in charge of Housing for the Homeless, is as irrational and self-defeating as putting that Monument to Misogyny, Tony Abbott, in charge of The Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce! Given the callous disregard the LNP has for anyone who isn’t a signed-up member of their fan base in the Top 1%, I seriously doubt that the elitists in the LNP will come up with a suitable solution for homeless Australians unless, of course, it is to advise them to move to the Kiwirrkurra Community or some other incredibly remote part of the country where isolated citizens can then become one of the growing members of our society who are “out of sight, out of mind” !!

    There’s no doubt about the contemptuous arrogance and entitlement of such sanctimonious elitist politicians (on both sides of the political fence) – many of whom own at least two homes or many more! Among the biggest property owners in parliament is Opposition home affairs spokesperson Karen Andrews who, with husband Chris, jointly owns six investment properties as well as her Gold Coast residence. Opposition leader Peter Dutton is listed as owning two Queensland properties, one residential/farm in rural Dayboro and a residential investment in Brisbane. He is also listed as joint-owner of another Brisbane investment property with his wife, Kirrily. Of course, not many Australians begrudge people who have worked hard to purchase one or more investment properties, but Dutton et al never stop their contemptuous, callously inhumane attacks against the poorest, most vulnerable people in our nation – many of whom are unemployed and/or homeless. The fact is that politicians manage to make an incredibly good living, thanks to the outrageous “generosity” of the Australian taxpayer! Not only do politicians earn a HUGE (undeserved) salary at OUR expense; their lavish lifestyles are fully-subsidised through taxpayers’ enforced “generosity” getting wined and dined and enjoying frequent travel (around our nation and overseas) and often in the company of their wives and family, they then retire on an overly-generous taxpayer-funded superannuation in order to spend the rest of their lives in the lap of luxury! This does NOT go down well with struggling Australians who’s high taxes are used to feed the greed and astonishing entitlement of so many non-achieving politicians who have been PROVEN to be the biggest, most voracious parasites in our nation!

    Do these multi-property-owning political capitalists have ANY sympathy at all for struggling young Australians who can barely afford a deposit to purchase their FIRST apartment or home? Not likely! The ONLY people politicians – especially the elitists in the LNP – care about is THEMSELVES! The inhumane sociopaths in the right-wing have ALWAYS adhered to their ideology that the rich get richer and anyone OUTSIDE the Top 1% can take a flying leap; after all, the Top 1% will ALWAYS need working-class plebs to fork out the outrageous level of rent the elite charge on their over-rated investment properties!

  4. Cool Pete

    One of the biggest dickheads I encountered was a guy at Coolum Beach who was a devoted Liberal voter who told the story that he was a fourth-year apprentice when he married his pregnant fiancé (tut-tut, naughty boy) and lived in a flat behind a rubbish dump for four years and that Joe Hockey was right. Michael Sukkar is as bad as Tone the Botty and Joe Hockey and as condescending. The dickhead thought Hockey was right.

  5. RomeoCharlie

    You might also add that Sukkar was one of three Coalition MP’s who came close to being found in contempt of court after disagreeing with the finding in a legal matter several years ago.

    What makes my knees tremble is the fact that Albanese and Labor seem to be intent on ensuring they are a one-term government due to their spinelessness, timidity and apparent forgetfulness of those they are most supposed to represent. So many missed opportunities dud decisions.or stupid commitments (AUKUS, Stage 3 tax cuts, Israel)

    My one hope, more Greens and independents in a minority Labor government. Who can forget the successes of the first Gillard government when three principled independents supported her?

    While I agree with most of the Grattan Institute’s suggestions I wonder about including the owner-occupied home in the pension assets test. Is the intention to reduce pension payments to owner-occupiers thus (theoretically reducing the overall pension burden)?

    The family home might be a financial asset but it is not, generally, income producing. In fact I probably speak for many when I say our own home, depending upon its age, can be a drain on income.

    Of course we might be encouraged to downsize, perhaps improving our liquidity, in which case our pensions might then fall, a bit. But what if we don’t want to downsize. And anyway it is generally agreed that the aged pension, along with jobseeker, is in need of a significant increase.

    Reducing my part pension worries me a bit.

  6. Patricia

    RomeoCharlie:
    I agree with your concerns about including the owner occupier home in the pension assets test. It is not an asset while ever it is occupied by the owner, it is accommodation, it provides no income.

    Pensioners who do not own their own home are provided with rent assistance, as measly as it is in this era of high rents, so if the owner occupier is to have the value of their home included in the pension assets test there needs to be a floor at which the value of the home becomes included, like $3 or $5M. This might sound high but if you live in Sydney or Melbourne in one of the inner suburbs and purchased there 30 or 40 years ago, your home could well be worth at least that much.

    Unless such a mechanism is included you will have people living in their home without any means of support if their pension is taken from them, and if they sell up they will at least have the means to eat but nowhere to live.

  7. Keitha Granville

    How galling that Bill Shorten failed in his bid for the Lodge when he was promoting all of those things that will make home ownership possible for many more – negative gearing on ONE property only ( all the mum and dad investors the Coalition were so concerned about), and the reduction in capital gains tax. He lost because of all those wealthier Australians couldn’t bear to lose their FREE taxpayer’s money !!

    Most of the MPs currently in the parliament have at least 1 extra property so none of them has any right to vote on this in my opinion. As soon as they become one of the “haves” the “havenots” haven’t got a hope.

    We cannot let the next election swing back to the Coalition, and we need Labor to actually start doing something constructive about the housing crisis.

  8. Byron

    Albo has no appetite for removing advantages legislated in favor of investors. A few months back he told the party fateful to relax, any price-capping of rents would be at a rate above CPI inflation. That fool wants to bake in unaffordable home prices forever so that he and his mates have a permanent and increasing pool of renters.
    Vote Labor-LNP out.

  9. Andrew Smith

    Good example of the right’s propensity for PR and Orwellian doublespeak, rather than actually do anything, that may upset their masters and mistresses?

  10. leefe

    Only three houses? He’s a rank amateur.

  11. New England Cocky

    @! RomeoCharlie: Agreed. The family home should be sacrosanct under ALL misgovernments. Then as well as abolishing negative gearing (NG) on more than one investment property for both individual natural persons and corporate entities. As LABOR proposed in 2020 election, NG could be grandfathered out as happened with Capital Gains Tax in about 1985.
    .
    Then, as noted elsewhere, first home buyers could get a principal residence home loan with an interest rate fixed for the term of the loan. When added to the accompanying abolition of Stamp Duty, this would assist fresh home buying families to get into the market and benefit from market movements.
    .
    Selling up the family ancestral home would release funds for purchasing more unnecessary consumer goods, travel and other uses, thus increasing business turnover in the increasingly corporate world. Once again, economists want to rip-off the workers for the benefit lawyers for sale legal fees, moving costs to transport companies and government revenue from Stamp Duty. Somehow this amounts to an inflationary input for the national economy that economists claim to understand.
    .
    Certainly unemployment ”benefits” and aged pensions need increasing, rather than Stage 3 Tax Cuts for the already wealthy.

  12. Terence Mills

    The captioned photograph must have been around the time that our then prime minister was bagging the EV industry :

    “[An electric vehicle] won’t tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot with your family.”

    And Michaelia Cash was running a scare campaign on tradies’ utes : “We are going to stand by our tradies. And we are going to save their utes.”

    Both of these luminaries are still in our parliament !

  13. Phil Pryor

    Mr. Sukkar has some ability to get up and on, promoted, advanced. His “friends” call him “Cock” and it may be a humorous appellation relating to said onwardness and upthegreasypoleability.

  14. Mark Buckley

    Surely it is reasonable to include the family home for the pension’s asset test, if said home is a $3million dollar home in Potts Point. If they can afford such a place, they clearly don’t need the pension. And please don’t tell me they have a right to a pension because of all the tax they have paid throughout their lives. If you own a $3million house anywhere, you accumulated it by minimising your tax, or by inheriting the house, or by screwing your staff. Unreasonable wealth is always the result of an uneven playing field, at the very least. It is a reliable maxim, like the statement that there are no virtuous billionaires-they got it from someone, and if they haven’t given it away yet, they shouldn’t still have it. Just saying …

  15. Terence Mills

    Mark Buckley

    Not necessarily.

    The value of the home is largely in the land , the house itself is usually a depreciating and deteriorating asset : in most respects it’s just a roof over your head.

    The asset test is more about what the pension recipient has in the way of ‘readies’ ; cash and investments that can fund day to day living.

    If you seek to reduce a persons access the the aged pension adopting the value of the home (house & land) as a criterion you reduce the ability of that pensioner to live day to day. Does that make any sense ?

  16. New England Cocky

    @ Mark Buckley: Where have you been during the past 40 years of real estate dealing when successive government so of both persuasions made owning residential real estate an essential investment?
    .
    The mid-80s LABOR Capital Gains Tax (CGT) was supposed to gouge back to the government some of the capital growth, or slow down property turnover with a declining impact. However, Little Johnnie Howard removed that constraint (what a surprise!!)
    .
    You complain because individuals have used the legal mechanisms to maximise their family worth, pick one well known residential real estate hot spot and apply those prices to all of Australia. Poor thinking there …..
    .
    Perhaps you neglected to read the market signs of increasing residential real estate values caused by the tax breaks, but that is life.
    .
    Perhaps you are just jealous that others have benefited from correctly reading the market, and wish you had done the same.
    .
    Perhaps you lack the necessary skills or access to finance or desire to build a future for your family using the laws as they now stand.

  17. Mark Buckley

    New England Cocky, you seem to have lost sight of the objective here. We’re not talking about the accumulation of wealth, but how to increase affordability of housing. That doesn’t include whether the author is jealous, or impoverished, or unsuccessful, because you will never know the facts of the matter. If I were you, I would judge the arguments used, and try not to indulge in immature ad hominem attacks on the writer. I look forward to reading your own contributions. I am sure they will be splendid.

  18. Byron

    Mark B, I can see the point of including the family home in tax system considerations. Tax legislation has been weaponized against the public to basically redefine shelter as primarily a financial asset to trade & profit off. The idea that shelter is a basic right or place to raise a family does not compute with our ‘leaders’. Thus the tangle of conflicting priorities for successive govts – guaranteeing diametrically-opposed home price inflation and plummeting affordability at the same time. I also see that stripping back tax advantage, eg. only one investment property per family would help. Rather than expand the economy by encouraging export-related services and goods, the govt seems devoted to using irresponsible bank lending to increase local debt and credit to fund the recycling of existing properties.
    Only idiots would attempt to design an economy on those principles, so it’s a big hat tip to Labor-LNP.
    NEC, your last comment can be summarized as ‘I’m OK Jack’?

  19. New England Cocky

    @ Mark Buckley: This was not an ad hominem attack, it was a defence of foresight & sensible investment that was available for every person who was interested.
    .
    Your claim has several errors;

    1) selling residential real estate usually requires the vendor moving to a different location, say Bondi Beach to Penrith, which destroys social links for the (former) residence owner. The only beneficiary is the purchaser, the vendor is disadvantaged.
    .
    2) perhaps the cause of residential housing being unaffordable has more to do with the tax advantages of home ownership that successive governments have been reluctant to revise in favour of purchasers;
    .
    3) naturally nine (9) too many years of COALition misgovernment did nothing to rectify the rules of residential real estate ownership.
    .
    4) taxing individual natural persons who own residential real estate is easily circumvented by moving the residence into a corporate structure where all family members are shareholders.

    @ Byron: Disagree. However, my response was made to a post that I considered was rueing a missed opportunity to secure their future residence.

  20. Shady Sukkar

    That’s why everyone needs to support the Shady Sukkar campaign and get rid of him!

  21. Centrelink customer

    Message for Anthony Albanese Dear Prime Minister, I am a jobseeker abused and robbed by Services Australia. In March 202, I reported the abuse via your website and asked you to protect welfare recipients from illegal debt scheme administered by Services Australia. Your office refused to provide me with a formal response, no reason was given. I raised with your office the following issues: Services Australia provided me with a formal review made by an anonymous “delegate or authorised officer” not an authorised review officer – ARO (required by law). Services Australia issued a debt notice demanding my Rent Assistance. They waived over $3600 “due to special circumstances” as they found out it was part of my Jobseeker payment. A few months after I reported the abuse to your office, Services Australia issued another debt notice demanding my rent Assistance again. Prime Minister, I ask you to stop the abuse and protect welfare recipients.

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