With the May 21 federal election fast approaching, it can be tricky to know who is most deserving of your vote.
What do each of the candidates have to say for themselves on key topics affecting you and your community? For what do their parties stand?
We at ACM Far South Coast don't profess to have all the answers, but we have endeavoured to seek insight from Eden-Monaro's candidates on four key questions affecting this region.
Each candidate was sent the questions, with the same deadline to respond and same word limit.
Last week we sought answers on questions regarding the sustainability of local councils, and the challenges facing our aged care and health system.
This week we have their responses on Housing Affordability and the Environment.
The questions asked:
Housing affordability and availability are at critical levels and we are seeing people sleeping in cars and employers unable to take on desperately needed staff because there is no accommodation for them. What strategies will you implement to improve the situation?
Although recovery efforts continue to be a key focus, what mitigation measures can the Federal Government take to protect the community from the effects of climate change and more concretely tackle emission reduction?
Disappointingly, not every candidate responded, but the answers received from those who did are below, presented in the order candidates will appear on the ballot.
Housing is a fundamental human right. Perversely, homes are now treated as an investment asset by governments rather than a shelter in which to live and/or raise a family. The Sustainable Australia Party has policies to achieve greater housing affordability for home buyers and renters, while striving for relatively stable house prices.
The Sustainable Australia Party will address the root causes affecting housing affordability and availability which is the hyper-demand resulting from current government policies that encourage speculative investment in property and diverts investment away from productive alternatives. The SAP will remove capital gains tax and negative gearing concessions (with existing arrangements to be grandfathered), ban further foreign ownership and limit future foreign investment to a maximum of 25 per cent of any Australian residential housing or commercial property, or land for residential housing or commercial development.
The SAP will increase investment in public housing and more public and affordable housing and ensure a minimum 10% public or affordable housing is integrated into new significant residential developments through a process of inclusionary zoning and through a simple federal government policy decision to stabilise our population to take pressure off housing demand.
The Sustainable Australia Party recognises that a healthy natural environment is the foundation upon which all human wellbeing and prosperity is built, and will prioritise environmental sustainability to better protect, manage and restore Australia's unique natural environment. A healthy natural environment is a fundamental human right that the SAP will enshrine into law and prioritise this in all policy and development decisions.
To realistically lower Australia's total environmental impact we need to both lower our per capita environmental impacts and stabilise our population size.
We have a housing crisis in Australia. Forty years ago, almost 60 per cent of young Australians on low and modest incomes owned their own home. Now, it is only 28 per cent.
Every Australian should know the security of having a roof over their head. This is why Labor has a suite of policies designed to improve housing affordability and ownership.
Labor will create the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund which will build 30,000 new social and affordable housing properties in its first five years.
An Albanese Labor Government will also cut the cost of buying a home by up to 40 per cent for 10,000 Australians per year. Help to Buy will provide eligible homebuyers with an equity contribution of up to 40 per cent of the purchase price of a new home and up to 30 per cent of the purchase price for an existing home. The scheme will help Australians buy a home with a smaller deposit, a smaller mortgage and smaller mortgage repayments.
You can read about Labor's housing policies here:
The devastating floods and the Black Summer Bushfires have shown that natural disasters are intensifying and causing more damage. We know there are going to be more severe climate events. To limit the impact and keep people safe we must anticipate, adapt, and invest in mitigation. Importantly, we also need a government that is serious about taking strong action on climate change.
An Albanese Labor Government will reduce Australia's emissions by a minimum of 43% by 2030, keeping us on track for net zero by 2050. Under our Powering Australia plan, we will invest $20 billion to modernise Australia's energy grid to spur growth in renewable energy production and keep power prices down.
Labor's Powering Australia plan will:
On a more local level, we will invest $1 million in community renewable energy projects on the Far South Coast. The funding will go to local clean energy projects which will create local jobs, deliver cheaper energy to local communities, and reduce emissions.
In addition, an Albanese Labor Government will spend up to $200 million a year on disaster prevention and resilience.
We have a national crisis with a lack of appropriate housing across Australia. People are living on the streets, or in their cars. Attempts by government to address this issue have been underfunded, disorganised and lack any sort of national plan, despite multiple Senate committee reports dating back decades that have called for one.
The Australian Democrats have previously called for the federal government to work in collaboration with state, territory and local governments, and borrow at low-interest rates to fund community homes. The return on investment can be substantiated and realised within the first five years of establishing this strategy. A target of 100,000 new affordable homes and 100,000 new social and community homes is attainable.
The 2022 budget offers more money for the Home Guarantee Scheme so some first home buyers can borrow on a 5 percent deposit and for single parents just 2 percent. However, this measure will increase buyer demand and further increase prices.
My plan is to construct sufficient community homes in Eden Monaro to locally and affordably house everyone, including sufficient accommodation for workers and tourism, as well as boosting the local economy. I will address the shortage of trained tradespeople through local apprenticeships.
I will mitigate climate change effects by increasing grants to local councils to 3% of tax income. I will also increase funding for disaster recovery to provide more immediate relief and to future proof replacement infrastructure.
My nine-point plan for sustainability is to:
The Morrison Government continues to work with the states and territories to improve social and affordable housing outcomes as a priority.
That's why, under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, states and territories receive $1.6 billion annually from the Federal Government to help meet their obligations to improve housing and homelessness outcomes. Our Government also provided certainty of funding for homelessness services over the long term.
This is part of $9 billion the Morrison Government expects to spend on housing and homelessness, including more than $5 billion on Commonwealth Rent Assistance - helping around 1.4 million Australians to pay their rent.
The Coalition established the NHFIC and in the Budget provided an extra $2 billion in low-cost financing to NHFIC's Affordable Housing Bond Aggregator to support more social and affordable housing.
State governments and local councils need to step up and increase the supply of housing to put downward pressure on house prices and rentals.
At a local level there is a need for supply of housing to be increased. I believe an opportunity exists at South Pambula, similar to the Wolumla and Kalaru developments and I believe these need to be carefully considered.
The Morrison Government is absolutely committed to breaking down barriers to home ownership, including by extending the Home Guarantee Scheme which has already helped more than 11,000 people in NSW buy their first home with as little as a five per cent deposit.
Labor cannot be trusted to help Australians into their dream of home ownership.
They have consistently opposed and attempted to block the Government's housing initiatives - and took a $31 billion Housing Tax to the last election, designed to undermine the housing market by doubling capital gains tax and abolishing negative gearing for existing properties.
Climate change is real, pressing and needs to be tackled. The Government remains committed to reducing emissions to Net Zero by 2050.
Supported by the Government's policies, 22,800 rooftop solar panels have been installed in Eden-Monaro. Since coming to office, the Government has also supported 7,255 clean energy projects in New South Wales through the Government's green bank, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
Snowy Hydro 2.0 is something we can all be proud of and I would support innovation and renewables in this sector.
Housing is in crisis in Eden Monaro. The Greens plan to build one million energy efficient low income and social housing homes over the next 10 years by taxing billionaires (this would be about 3-4000 homes in Eden Monaro). We will increase renters rights and decrease houses being used as investments instead of homes by removing negative gearing after the first investment property.
Increasing welfare supports to $88 a day will provide some relief until these longer term policies take effect.
The Greens have the only climate action policy that understands the urgency and magnitude of the change needed. We can do this because we do not take donations from fossil fuel companies.
The Greens plan to have 75% reduction in emissions in 2030 leading to net zero by 2035. We will not open new coal mines and gas fields and will close thermal coal mines and coal power plants by 2030. Subsidies and tax breaks for fossil fuel companies will be removed and a levy charged on fossil fuel companies to pay for climate change fuelled disasters.
At a more household level there will be substantial grants available for house batteries and electric cars and investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure that will make electric vehicles the cheapest option for rural transport.
Experts have been warning that housing inequality and intergenerational poverty is increasing in Australia, and they warn that urgent action is needed to mitigate the COVID-led crisis in housing.
Australia has not had a national housing strategy since WWII, and what is needed is a national housing policy that involves all levels of government.
If I am elected I would push for a national strategy that tackles housing affordability in this country. This is not an easy fix because many Australians have generated their wealth from housing, but I think it's important we explore the impact of setting limits around these investments.
I would encourage the government to investigate the impact of limiting how many properties any one person can own, because this could help keep house prices lower and could take the pressure off rental shortages.
I would also like to see less red tape in regard to land release processes, particularly in rural and regional areas. Opening up land so new homes could be built would stimulate growth in rural areas and it may even encourage people from urban areas to move to rural and regional Australia. Another way to help housing affordability is for governments to reduce stamp duty.
For areas affected by weather disasters and the COVID measures, I think the government should look at rental reform and possibly long term rental relief which would help many Australians struggling to meet their rental responsibilities.
If the government implemented policy that made home ownership more affordable then it would help reduce housing shortages because some renters would then be able to afford to buy a home
In 2019 I lost a business in Mogo due to the catastrophic bushfires. It was a very difficult and terrifying time for people in the South Coast region, and many people lost their homes and businesses.
What was learned from those catastrophic bushfires was what worked and what didn't work during the immediate support and then recovery phases. In the future if another climate catastrophe of such magnitude happens we can use that knowledge acquired during the 2019 bushfire event to respond in ways that are more effective and helpful to the communities affected.
I support a transition to renewable energy and if elected I would lobby the federal government to work with companies who are working on alternative energy to come up with ways that will match the power of fossil fuel energy. At this stage we are not able to make cement and concrete with renewable energy so it's important for politicians to encourage innovative companies to develop more powerful and less harmful energy.
Although not all candidates responded yet to our questions, here are links to their respective Facebook pages for readers wishing to do some more digging on their policies and platforms.
Boyd Shannon, Pauline Hanson's One Nation - no details able to be found
I have worked as a journalist since 2005 and am now Editor of Australian Community Media mastheads in Bega, Merimbula and Eden
I have worked as a journalist since 2005 and am now Editor of Australian Community Media mastheads in Bega, Merimbula and Eden
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