Housing and Property Rights

A Home of Your Own

Conservative Australians is committed to keeping the Great Australian Dream of home ownership alive for all Australians. Home ownership is both a symbol of the equality we share as Australians and a means through which average Australians provide security and stability for themselves and their families while building wealth and claiming a tangible stake in the nation. For the vast majority of Australians, owner-occupation of the home in which they live remains a great ambition.

Conservative Australians recognizes the moral, social and economic importance of the family home. In recent years however, a disturbing trend has emerged in the level of home ownership among young families. It is in substantial decline. We have witnessed, quarter by quarter, the erosion of housing affordability.

In 2014, the median house price in the capital cities was more than ten times the national median income.

Home ownership is fast becoming the privilege of the few rather than the rightful expectation of the many, and the province of older Australians at the expense of the young. While influential bodies like the Productivity Commission and the Reserve Bank have focused their attention on demand drivers like capital gains tax, negative gearing, interest rates, readily accessible finance, first home buyers’ grants and high immigration rates, few have been looking at the real source of the affordability problem – land supply for new housing stock. State governments and their land management agencies are refusing to provide an adequate and affordable supply of land, preferring crony capitalism and price gouging to profit over $500 million per annum in Stamp Duties etc. (2013-14).

Australia does not have a ‘housing affordability’ problem per se – one can get a brand-new house built for under $100,000, it has a ‘land affordability’ problem. The price of land has sky-rocketed.

Over the past twenty years the price of residential land across Australia has increased by nearly five times.

To fix the problem for good and ensure that future generations do not suffer the same fate, Conservative Australians proposes eight key policy initiatives:

  1. Where they have been applied, urban growth boundaries or zoning restrictions on the urban fringes of our cities need to be removed. Residential development on the urban fringe needs to be made a “permitted use.” In other words, there should be no zoning restrictions in turning rural fringe land into residential land.
  2. Small players need to be encouraged back into the market by abolishing compulsory ‘Master Planning’. If large developers wish to initiate Master Planned Communities, that’s fine, but don’t make them compulsory.
  3. Allow the development of basic serviced allotments e., water, sewer, electricity, stormwater, bitumen road, street lighting and street signage. Additional services and amenities (lakes, entrance walls, childcare centres, bike trails, etc can be optional extras if the developer wishes to provide them and the buyers are willing to pay for them).
  4. Privatise planning approvals. Any qualified Town Planner should be able to certify that a development application complies with a Local Government’s Development Plan.

  5. No up-front infrastructure charges. All services should be allowed to be paid for through the rates system ie pay ‘as’ you use, not ‘before’ you use.
  6. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) should be resourced to investigate land price gouging practices by state land management agencies.
  7. The Federal Government should reduce grants to States or Territories found to have gouged publicly owned land for profits at the expense of housing affordability. The Federal Government should consider using the Corporations Power to allow any corporation that owns land to have the right to make land available for housing irrespective of any state planning or other law to the contrary.
  8. Given the vast social and economic benefits that flow from home ownership, Conservative Australians believes restoring housing affordability should once again become one of our nation’s most important priorities.

Property Rights

The fundamental underpinnings of any stable, secure and democratic society is the right to own property. Property rights provide the foundation on which many other rights and privileges are exercised.

The right to own property affords citizens a means whereby they can secure a permanent stake in their nation.

Where strong protections are afforded in law for the right of citizens to own property there is a value that transcends the natural value of the property alone.

 Acquisition of Property

Property acquisitions by governments have widened substantially in recent years with the impact of planning regulation, heritage listing, significant tree legislation, native vegetation protection, rising sea levels possibly due to ‘climate change’ and numerous other encumbrances leading to increasingly restricted use of private property.

Conservative Australians believes that if Federal, State or Local governments wish to either acquire a person’s property or limit a person’s right to develop or enjoy a property, then the property owner should be fully compensated for his or her loss.

For example, government decisions to impose wind turbines – causing devaluation of property – should result in either the government, wind turbine proponent – or both – being liable to compensate landholders for their losses.

It is a fundamental principle of farm land ownership that the property is acquired with the water rights attached to the property, including the amount of rainfall that falls on the property. Farmers should not have to pay more, or again, for the water rights that attach to the property. The Government does not own rainfall.

 Native Title

As it now stands, the Native Title Act recognises native title rights and sets down basic principles in relation to native title in Australia including that native title cannot be extinguished (other than through the Native

Title Act). While recognition of the existence of native title has provided for First Australian people, new rights in connection with their traditional lands, these new rights have become very much a two-edged sword.

For example, Native Title rights do not confer the right to sell, lease, develop or offer the land as security for economic development. The fragile nature of such a right therefore has no capacity to assist in

securing a future for First Australian people.

Conservative Australians believes the future of property regimes such as Native Title is too insecure and should be replaced by a freehold system empowering First Australian people, families and communities.

Conservative Australians believes that Australia’s Torrens Title system is the best property regime in the world and should be the sole means of managing property ownership.