Housing Alliance Campaign to ‘Vote Home’
20 May 2016 at 9:11 am
A national alliance of housing, homelessness and welfare peak bodies has begun a digital election campaign to make housing affordability and homelessness major election issues, claiming federal politicians have a “cavalier” attitude to the current crisis.
The alliance – formed by Homelessness Australia, National Shelter, the Community Housing Industry Association and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) – has established an online Vote Home petition calling for a national strategy to end the housing crisis by 2025.
National Shelter executive officer Adrian Pisarski said politicians have got to stop playing politics with housing affordability.
“Developing a national plan to end the housing crisis is the most important issue for all parties in this election,” Pisarski told Pro Bono Australia News.
“What we need to be doing is to send a strong signal on behalf of the entire community sector who deals with this issue on a daily basis and the welfare organisations right across the country, who know that this is the most intractable problem… that what they are dealing with and trying to do is very difficult.
“Housing affordability will be an issue due to the tax reform package that the Labor party has put on the table.That is about addressing housing affordability and that has created the discussion.
“We’ve got to kick off [the campaign] and get people to sign up.
“One of the reasons that we have gone for this digital platform is not just about the election but about after the election. We really want to be gathering data on the number of people who support the campaign but also on the comments that we receive, so that we have actually got some evidence to take to whoever wins the election afterwards and make them do something.
“It is incredibly frustrating when you see an issue that seems so intractable at the local level and yet it is treated with such a cavalier fashion at the political level.
“I think it really makes people angry when they hear a Joe Hockey say if you want a better house in Sydney get a better job or when the prime minister, who once could see that getting capital gains tax exemptions were market distortions, is now completely ruling out looking at them.”
Pisarski said this attitude just looks like the government is taking a position so that it can attack the labor party position.
“Now what we want to see is that we get beyond party politics on housing affordability; we have to make something that is recognised as a problem across party lines and that we can develop plans that are agreed upon across party lines,” he said.
“Every time we have this political problem within the electoral cycle we get three or five years of assistance on these issues when the ALP is in power and has appropriate support to do that and then when the other side gets in they seem to take it all away again.
“Now we cannot have that stop-start mentality if we are ever going to get a handle on this problem.”
Homelessness Australia chair Jenny Smith said: “Every night more than 105,000 Australians are homeless; and 40 per cent of those are under 25. Unless we address the crisis of availability of affordable housing, we cannot solve this completely unacceptable problem.”
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said: “Current tax policy has fuelled Australian housing prices to record and unaffordable levels. Tax settings that encourage speculative investment and inflate house prices – like negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount – must be addressed in the national plan.”
Dr Goldie said that by signing the Vote Home petition, Australians would ensure their politicians know that a fairer more equitable Australia, where access to a safe and affordable home is achievable for all, is important to them.