Thursday, August 12, 2010

Homeless and affordable housing ignored by politicians

ACV Reader's Comment
By Brett Christensen

I am amazed at what the political parties can get away with in an election campaign. They set the agenda and key issues, rather than the voters. And voters let them, as do the media.

Homelessness barely rates a mention. The related issue of housing affordability has been noticeably absent also. Bank bashing is a more popular practice, so interest rates do get trotted out for a mention by the pollies. But banks don't set the price of houses, and interest rates (which are quite low, compared to when I first entered the market) would pose little concern for home buyers if house prices were not so high.

I have yet to hear a politician bemoan the fact that, proportionate to mean income, Australian houses are the most expensive in the world. A few lonely voices are out there calling attention to this problem, but they're not running for seats in parliament.

Why do political parties not wish to acknowledge the elephant in the room? I cannot speak for them, but I suspect that they would see a serious loss of votes as the consequence of trying to tackle the problem. Try removing tax concessions for the investors who buy up slabs of the property market, reducing the supply and putting upward pressure on prices. See how many net votes that wins you. Then see how many votes you lose from the 'haves' who don't want to see their property prices fall.

The 'have-nots' and homeless might well vote for a political party which had the nerve to tackle our housing problem, but the haves would no doubt apply their financial resources against such a party in an election campaign - and the moral high ground is certainly no match for money in our modern democracy.

I must acknowledge that Family First has identified this as an issue and dared to identify 'the tax system and superannuation system' as key factors to be addressed, but that party is hardly a major voice in this campaign.

The Greens also broach the issue, but shy away from facing the root problems, merely saying the government should 'increase funding to public and community housing'. Clearly they do not wish to risk any votes by proposing intelligent policies.

Is not this a matter of social justice? Who will stand up and speak up for the disenfranchised have-nots and homeless? Obviously not the current crop of politicians, by and large. Will those who profess faith in Jesus Christ be numbered with the pollies who want to talk about the weather or anything but the elephant in the room? Or will they they stand apart from the crowd and insist that it be put on the agenda?

Brett Christensen

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