Sunday was a beautiful day in Sydney and a splendid opportunity for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Mr Scott Morrison to bond with local member Mr David Coleman and explain to a young working family why they should vote LNP at the forthcoming, but still not yet announced, Federal election.
What policy expression of true liberal values might those fine blue shirted fellows have explained to the young dad, mum and bub?
What themes from Menzies forgotten people speech and his discussion of the importance of “home” might they have channeled and given fresh expression?
“….I have mentioned homes material, homes human, and homes spiritual. Let me take them in their order. What do I mean by “homes material”?
The material home represents the concrete expression of the habits of frugality and saving “for a home of our own”. Your advanced socialist may rage against private property even while he acquires it; but one of the best instincts in us is that which induces us to have one little piece of earth with a house and a garden which is ours: to which we can withdraw, in which we can be among our friends, into which no stranger may come against our will….”
Perhaps they might have explained that they were pursuing policies to reduce the outright cost of new housing so that young families might purchase a home at low cost and thereby avoid a large mortgage that, even with historically low rates of interest, effectively removes any choice by the family whether one member of the household might stay at home while their children are young.
Perhaps they might have announced how they were going to remove (or rebate) the 10% GST from new housing for first home buyers, so that young families could pay less tax on their new home and thereby borrow less.
Perhaps they might have described how they are going to work with state governments to introduce a new Federal sponsored model for funding the development and servicing costs of new land so that young families are not being forced to take out large mortgages to pay up front for the type of land development and servicing costs that were paid for previous generations by government and then recovered from local government rates or general revenue.
Perhaps they may have explained that in a country the size of Europe with a population of only 23 million they saw no reason why young families should be forced by planning technocrats to live in small inner city apartments clustered around busy roads and their children denied the opportunity to enjoy backyards big enough to swing a cricket bat or kick a ball.
Perhaps they might have explained that they were going to slow the rate of migration until all levels of government had proved themselves competent and capable of delivering infrastructure and encouraging sufficient low cost housing supply to support current and future populations as modestly but as comfortably as previous generations.
Perhaps they might have explained that they were going to demand that Mr Morrison, the sleeping cop on the financial beat, do his job and have him enforce the laws regarding illegal foreign purchase of existing property including the immediate divestment of properties that are currently illegally owned by foreign owners and temporary residents who have long departed but have not sold as they are required to do.
Perhaps they might have explained that they were going to introduce laws that required foreign investors in new housing stock to pay a Commonwealth land tax in order to encourage them to make the property available for rent rather than leave the property empty and as a consequence be subsidized by other tax payers who contribute to the provision of infrastructure that supports the value of the foreign owned property via the taxes paid from their wage income.
Perhaps they may have explained that APRA would be told to encourage bank lending for productive investment in new housing construction to ensure that the supply of new housing is fast enough to provide plenty of housing options for those who want to buy a house to live in.
Perhaps they may have explained that APRA would be told to discourage bank lending for speculative purposes such as bidding up the prices of existing houses with liabilities incurred by the banking sector to off shore wholesale markets and guaranteed by the taxpayer.
Perhaps they might have explained that APRA would direct the banks to immediately cease lending money to foreign buyers to acquire Australian housing, new or existing, on the simple principle that if taxpayer guaranteed banks are going to extend credit to anyone for housing related purposes it should be to local people and not foreign speculators. If a foreign speculator does not have the capital to conduct their speculation our banks should not be supplying them with the “chips” to place their bets.
Perhaps they could have explained that with a competitive and efficient market for land for lower cost housing, Australian workers and industries would more easily compete in export markets and against imports arriving from countries who have not sunk masses of capital and resources into bidding up the price of their existing housing stock.
How easy it might have been to deliver, to that young Sydney family and thousands more around the country, a message steeped in traditional liberal party conservative values.
- An efficient land market generating abundant supplies of serviced low cost new land for housing.
- Households unburdened by record and reckless amounts of debt induced by RBA “bait rates” that are supported by foreign debts guaranteed by the taxpayer.
- Households able to make real choices as to how they raise their children.
- Foreign investment restricted to increasing the productive capacity of the Australian economy and not permitted to engage in asset price speculation with credit supplied by Australian banks.
Instead the message delivered to a young family, that found it impossible to buy a house they could afford to live in and instead they were forced to buy and rent out a dwelling while living with relatives, was that this government will DO NOTHING to limit taxpayer guaranteed unproductive foreign debt driven speculation on house prices – either:
- directly via reforms to negative gearing to focus investment in new housing and/or capital gains discounts or even better still
- indirectly through policies that would encourage a faster supply of low cost new land for housing right across Australia and limit the supply of credit for speculation on existing housing stock. See Perth shows the way to affordable housing.
Sir Robert Menzies would likely be disappointed that the Liberal Party appears to have forgotten in its pursuit of neo-liberal radicalism the importance of the ‘home’ to a functioning civilized society.
He may find it amusing that the defenders of his concept of the “home” and of property actually owned by a private person, might prove to be the ‘advanced socialists’ of the ALP, the Greens and most of the independents.