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NSW Labor’s hefty election housing promises

By Kyle Robbins
12 January 2023 | 13 minute read
chris minns daniel mookhey nsw reb dpmyjf

As NSW’s Labor Party look to emulate its federal counterparts and win office at the looming 25 March election, Opposition Leader Chris Minns has announced his party’s housing election promises.

Brandished by the Kogarah-based MP as “what our economy and what young families desperately need”, the state’s Labor Party’s housing plan promises to eliminate stamp duty for first home buyers purchasing a property below $800,000, as well as a concession rate for those obtaining a home valued between $800,000 and $1 million. 

Citing approximately 10,658 properties for sale across the state for under $1 million, or 54 per cent of available housing stock, the Opposition Leader proclaimed his party’s scheme would provide a “direct tax cut to 95 per cent of first-time buyers”, a factor he believes is “by far a better use of taxpayer money” than current government land tax schemes. 

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As previously reported on REB, the Perrottet government’s land tax scheme, announced in June of last year and officially ratified by State Parliament in November, sees first home buyers in the state “eligible to apply for full stamp duty exemption for properties up to $650,000, or a concession on properties between $650,000 and $800,000”.

“Under the new initiative, first home buyers who opt into the tax will pay an annual property rate of $400 plus 0.3 per cent of the land value of the property.” Late last year, research released by the NSW Treasury found nearly two-thirds of first home buyers would opt out of stamp duty after the new scheme’s implementation.

Mr Minns expressed his doubt about the tax, stating, “when you levy a tax based on the asset value of a property, particularly when properties have increased by 100 per cent in the last 10 years, but you have to pay it out of your salary, I’m concerned about the ability to pay for tens of thousands of new home buyers”. 

He expressed his vehement belief that “tens of thousands of people are far better off under Labor’s proposal than a permanent land tax that will be levied against them for however long they own that property”.

Mr Minns’ opposition to the Liberal government’s stamp duty reforms echoes earlier concerns by regional NSW stakeholders, who claim the reforms scarcely apply to them.

Despite celebrating the fact that “housing affordability and accessibility [are] at the top of the major parties’ priorities ahead of the March NSW state election,” the Property Council’s acting NSW executive director, Adina Cirson, did warn the Labor Party “in seeking to abolish the land tax option for first home buyers without considering the need for broader property tax reform”.

The Labor Party also pledged an allocation of surplus government land to a $30 million pilot build-to-rent scheme on the state’s south coast. The project would see government developer Landcom identify public land for development in areas where supply shortages are prevalent.

The project would be produced by either the Homes NSW agency announced by the Labor Party, or a community housing provider, and would see 30 per cent of stock made available for social or affordable housing.

Shadow treasurer Daniel Mookhey said the plan highlighted how the party would “begin to build more houses in New South Wales” to ultimately tackle the ongoing housing crisis.

Additionally, the party announced that, should the state vote red come 25 March, it would implement legislation requiring owners to respond to a tenant’s request to house a pet within their property inside 21 days, with landlords required to provide “a valid reason from a list of prescribed reasons”. It added, if the owner fails to respond, the pet request will automatically be approved”.

Leo Patterson Ross, chief executive officer at the Tenants Union of NSW, said Labor’s pet proposal, which mirrors an existing system already in effect throughout Queensland, “would be a great improvement on the status quo for renters with pets in NSW”.

He did note the model “would still leave renters with significant barriers to renting with pets” and cited the system implemented across Victoria, the ACT, and the Northern Territory, where a landlord can only refuse permission or challenge the keeping of a pet if they were to obtain a Tribunal order allowing them to do so.

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