Federal Minister dismisses Sydney’s housing affordability crisis

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At a joint press conference in central Sydney last week, Federal Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and NSW Labor leader Luke Foley attacked negative gearing. They also acknowledged that Sydney (where the median house price is now $1.1m) had a severe housing affordability crisis.

But hours earlier, across town at Homebush, Paul Fletcher, the Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure, was less keen to discuss the city’s housing affordability crisis.

“I suspect the people of Sydney have a lot more things that they're thinking about on a daily basis than that," Fletcher said.

According to statistical data released by the Labor Party, the number of rental properties in New South Wales that have been snapped up by investors has grown by 61% since 2013. Of these acquisitions, more than half were in Sydney.

Labor obtained the statistical data using freedom of information laws.

“Australia has the most generous tax concessions for property investment in the world,” Bowen said. “We also have, despite [NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s] claims to the contrary, a housing affordability crisis.”

Figures from the Office of State Review show that the number of properties in Sydney purchased specifically to rent rose from 1,660 per month in 2013 to 2,670 in 2016.

In contrast, the number of first-home buyers in NSW has been on the decline. Since 2011, the percentage of first-home buyers entering the market in NSW has fallen from 18% to a mere 8%.

Negative gearing is a major source of policy dispute in Canberra, with the Turnbull government ruling out changes to the investment property tax break.


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