Let Us Solve the Housing Problem
By Craig Hall
The debate regarding Australia’s housing shortage and cost is raging in the print media in all main masthead but is being detailed by modern political – economic ideology. The proposal by the Greens for rent caps and billions spent on Public Housing which they seek to own as their “new” original solution is a historical solution copied from the 1940 – 1960 era. Both sides of politics oppose this but for the wrong reasons stating it can’t work. The fact is both rent caps and mass public housing construction did occur in Australia via the Housing Commission. To this day there still are numerous “protected rents” in high rise Eastern suburbs apartment blocks, not in our “poor” western suburbs but in Potts Point and other exclusive suburbs – and these protected rents are in apartment blocks built by private industry, Insurance companies and equity trusts.
Opposition to this idea is opposed on the basis there is no money or materials supply and that private business should be allowed to do it instead of government. However if there is no money or supply of materials to build the vast public housing needed, then how can there be the same supply of materials, land and money for private industry to build? Perhaps we should not let facts and reason get in the way of modern irrational Rational Economic ideology.
The Housing Commission or Government housing supply construction ended in the 1970s with the job handed over to private developers. Developers have had therefore seventy years to build the required housing and decade after decade have progressively fallen behind in meeting the need.
Developers having failed, thus allows us to return to an Economic Rationalist theory of “market failure”. In the event of such failure, the economic theory vaccinates the economy with an injection called “government intervention”. This theory recognises that the scale of a problem can be so vast that only the government has the resources to close the gap. This is exactly what happened in Australia in the post WW2 era when Australia was faced with guess what; 300,000 short fall in housing, a booming population surge, and a post war shortage of labour, money and materials. Sound familiar?
One only needs to see the range of brick veneer and fibro houses as far south as Cronulla, West to Penrith and North to the Central Coast and inner West biting at the heels of well-to-do Eastwood, yes even Manly, and Putney with its waterfront fibros, to see how comprehensive and successful this policy was. Same problem same solution. That Labor has not jumped on this program is proof of how far liberal that Labor has shifted, and how much Liberal economic theory has, despite obvious failings, become a religious doctrine.
Under current socio-political culture such government built housing is just too socialist bordering on Communist. In an increasingly atheist world, people look for alternate religious belief and the new liberalist rational economics is that new religion, and it says the economic business world “the market” is a perfect organiser of economic activity.
To solve the housing problem in Australia we need to draw on our own recent past successful method of Housing Commission built homes, implemented by a compassionate government with a true social conscience that responds to the need not the ideology.
former State Director
Christian Democratic Party