Greens leader Adam Bandt is confident that federal and state leaders will get on-board with an ambitious shared-homeownership policy that would make up to 1 million homes available to buyers for as little as $300,000 a piece over 20 years, if the party holds balance of power after the next federal election.
The election policy, which was launched by Bandt on Sunday, will cost an estimated $7.5 billion over four years, and $22.9 billion over 10 years, according to costing from the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.
Under the policy, 125,000 homes would form part of a shared equity ownership scheme that would offer buyers between 50% and 75% of their home’s equity, via access to a low-interest loan.
A further 750,000 new public housing properties would be built under the scheme in a bid to reduce waiting lists and homelessness, in addition to 125,000 universal access rental homes.
It’s a policy the party says will be paid for in part by the introduction of a new “Billionaire’s Tax,” which was first pitched in March, and would see about 122 Australian billionaires taxed on 90% of their original wealth in a bid to stop them from shifting assets offshore.
The remaining third of the policy’s cost, meanwhile, would be shouldered by state governments, who Bandt suggests are likely to welcome the policy with open arms.
“The federal government holds the purse strings, but the state governments have to deal with the renters getting priced out and the huge public housing waiting lists,” Bandt said.
A party member close to the leadership suggested to Business Insider Australia that the Commonwealth and state governments already work closely together on the administration and funding of public housing, through schemes like the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, and that this policy would likely be no different.
They said that the third component of the policy’s costing, a new capital grants fund, would even benefit state governments, who would be able to use it to improve and extend their current housing stock.
The capital grants fund would see state and territory governments offered $1.5 billion a year for three years, and a further $2.5 billion over the following seven years to contribute to public housing improvements under the policy.
“State governments have lots of land, including in sought-after locations, and under the Greens’ plan the Commonwealth will basically pay to build affordable homes on it,” Bandt said. “Cash-strapped state governments will be knocking down the door.”
Will state leaders come to the party?
Early in the piece, however, state leaders have been slow to acknowledge the policy.
A spokesperson for New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, who entered office with an early pledge to evening the playing field for young people looking to enter the housing market, said he “has not had the opportunity to examine this proposal”.
Meanwhile, a senior adviser to NSW Treasurer Matt Kean said his office was dealing with more pressing matters, and hadn’t had a chance to review the policy, either. Advisers to other leaders declined to comment.
Bandt said that with so many prospective homeowners locked out of a searing property market, the government needs to act to ensure that everyone has a home. Anyone who stands in the way of this policy, he said, is choosing the “billionaires over the battlers”.
“Housing in this country is cooked, and any politician who stands in the way of a big visionary plan to fix housing is picking the billionaires over the battlers,” he said.
“Housing is a human right and the Greens are pushing to open a new door for everyone locked out of the housing market.”
Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi said the policy stands to benefit essential workers like teachers, nurses and emergency services workers, who for so long homeownership has been out of reach.
“The Greens’ plan for one million homes will most directly benefit people experiencing homelessness, people on public housing waiting lists, and people locked out of the housing market,” Faruqi said.
“The policy would end homelessness, clear waiting lists and allow thousands of renters the opportunity to buy a home in a suburb where they want to live.”
Like Bandt, Faruqi said that those standing in opposition to the Greens’ policy are in effect standing in opposition to equality.
“Our pitch is that Australia is in a housing crisis and this requires big solutions. If you’re committed to reducing inequality in this country, this has to involve providing affordable housing for everyone who is locked out currently,” Faruqi said.
“At this rate, our society is only going to get more and more unequal if we don’t act now,” she said. “House prices are out of control in this country and homelessness is a national shame. There is no good reason anyone in Australia should be homeless.
“There is no good reason an entire generation has been locked out of owning their own home. Building one million homes is not just a nice idea — it’s essential.”