Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Affordable housing? That's what they wanted before the crisis

Now they want a set of skyhooks

Jessica Irvine in today's Sydney Morning Herald:

"Labor has undergone an about-face on housing policy. The contrast between pre-election posturing and the reality in government is stark.

On July 27, 2007, the Labor opposition hosted a "housing affordability summit" in the main committee room in Parliament House. About 150 housing experts from all over the country braved Canberra's winter chill to discuss solutions to the housing affordability crisis.

I was there. There was little agreement on what needed to be done, but summiteers were unanimous in what shouldn't be done. Everyone agreed that increasing the first-home owners grant would simply result in higher house prices.

Labor seemed convinced and produced a discussion paper quoting the chief economist at ANZ, Saul Eslake, saying: "Anything which puts additional cash in the hands of buyers … results merely in more expensive houses."