Despite the difficulties ordinary Victorians face in renting or finding a home to live in, we now find new calls for restrictions on property development. The Liberal Democrats firmly believe that solving the housing crisis can only be achieved by relaxing zoning laws and reducing the incredible cost of Victorian housing. Foreign investment and negative gearing are red herrings in the housing affordability debate.
The government’s latest campaign is for the introduction of ‘neighbourhood residential zones.’ This new zoning designation prevents people from developing any residential property to over two stories in height. It is being introduced primarily in most of the South Eastern suburbs covered by the Bayside, Boroondora and Glen Eira Councils. But recently Labor has called for its introduction in Brunswick (and presumably Moreland). 80% of the residential properties in those areas will be covered by these zones. As The Age reported, based on past applications, Boroondara may well experience a “27 percent reduction in dwelling approvals across the municipality.” These zoning laws will artificially inflate housing prices.
Artificially inflated housing prices will leave low-income earners, singles, couples and those elderly who do not own their homes worse off as they will find it harder or impossible to own or rent their own homes. Indeed, they already have this effect, so it’s no surprise that homeless support and social housing organisations are reporting record homelessness in Melbourne and a lack of available housing. Minister Guy’s own advisory committee has described these new zones, however, as being “very likely to compromise the ability to meet [Melbourne’s target] projected growth in households in a way that also addresses choice, affordability and diversity in housing supply.”
Additionally, and contrary to popular belief, negative gearing and foreign investment do not decrease housing affordability. Negative gearing is simply a tax refund for moneys invested in attaining income—typically rental income—from property. Getting rid of it is another way of raising taxes. As for foreign investment, it is simply another source of investment capital. These issues simply do not affect the housing supply at all. Relaxing zoning laws will increase the housing supply and increase housing affordability, not outdated protectionism or tax increases.
The Liberal Democratic Party understands this. We want zoning laws relaxed so that property becomes affordable again. We believe mixed use zoning should be implemented across the State and that the Urban Growth Boundary should be abolished. Mixed use zoning allows developers to construct medium density multi-storey residential, commercial or industrial developments. Implementing mixed use zoning state-wide and abolishing empower people to own and buy their own homes and drive investment and productivity in Victoria.
The Victorian Liberal Democratic Party will also replace our current permit system with one that does not pose a barrier to genuine, reasonable development. Permits should be considered by independent, private town planners, not local Councils. And if a planner fails to make a decision in 60 days then the application should be automatically approved. Giving planning powers to Councils and VCAT has proven an incredibly burdensome process that has delayed developments for years. This costly litigation benefits no one, and replacing it with a simple system will mean that reasonable developments will be approved. Building surveyors already do much the same with building permits. Property construction costs will drop as a result.
Cutting construction costs and winding back zoning laws is an easy way to stimulate development in this State at no cost to the taxpayer. And it helps people take back their property rights. Two birds in one stone.
If the Victorian LDP sounds like the party for you, now is the time to show your support and join us. We are also fervent believers in civil liberties—including repealing the State equivalent to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. But we can only get on the ballot in this State if you show your support. Sign up now for free online at www.ldpvic.org.au/?r=cat.
Then (and only then) print off this form and post it to the VEC at:
Victorian Electoral Commission
Reply Paid 68780
Melbourne VIC 8001.
This one will come down to the wire, folks. Every member counts if we are to hit 500 members writing back to the VEC in the next 2 weeks. There is a political home for classical liberalism in this State—join up now and become part of it.
Vladimir Vinokurov is a solicitor and Victorian State PR officer for the Liberal Democratic Party.