The ACT has 390,8001 individuals residing in 145,0002 households in the ACT. Our public housing system has 23,0003 people living in 11,6004 properties at a cost of nearly $167m per annum5. $4.5 billion6 of ACT residents’ money is tied up in public houses.
Public housing costs over $1,000 per annum per household – that’s a significant portion of your rates. Each individual in the ACT holds an equity stake in public housing of about $11,500. And yet with all this funding, the outcomes are amongst the worst in Australia. Our bloated scheme sees hundreds of citizens in genuine need of public housing on waiting lists—we have the second highest homeless rate in Australia at the last census7—while long-term tenants stay on in larger houses after their children have grown and moved away.
The ACT Liberal Democrats believe there is a better way to support people in genuine need. We believe that once an individual or a family can afford to leave public housing because of positive changes in their personal circumstances, they should vacate the property for someone in urgent, genuine need. The ACT Government has argued that a significant proportion of people in public housing are paying “economic rent”, or in other words, the market rate for the property. We reject this assertion because we would expect, all things being equal, that over time tenants would move in and out of public housing and privately owned housing. This does not occur. Moreover, if a public housing tenant is required to pay the market price, what kind of assistance is government actually providing?
We do not agree with the common practice of a large family home in the public housing system remaining in the hands of one or two elderly parents long after children have grown and left home.
The ACT Liberal Democrats believe only critical, short-term emergency public housing should be owned by the government and that these properties should be managed by the private sector. Government could directly rent any surplus properties from the market as required (instead of owning them).
The ACT Liberal Democrats believe that housing would be more affordable if government interfered less in the market and charged less in rates and taxes. This would in turn reduce the need for public housing.
The government is not a real estate agent and should not be a property investor. Government should focus resources on those in critical need and not provide subsidies for those who choose to take advantage of a poorly managed government scheme.
The ACT Liberal Democratic Party: