An article by
LINDSAY DAVID , PAUL EGAN & PHILIP SOOS
Following our analysis of Commonwealth Parliamentarians’ real estate holdings, our attention now turns to Victoria’s parliament, which is set for an election in November 2014 under its fixed four-year term.
Victorians are entitled to ask: what sort of policies and forward direction will politicians and their parties promise with respect to housing?
Australia, including Victoria, is in the midst of a chronic housing affordability crisis. House price inflation has outstripped both rents and household incomes since 1996, leading to a residential property market that is unaffordable in both historic and international terms.
Yet, instead of acting to resolve the crisis, Victoria’s elected representatives are resolutely determined to maintain world-beating prices with poorly designed policies – purposefully maximising prices despite the costs incurred by the community.
The public should critically consider whether the property holdings of state politicians are negatively influencing policy and causing them to ignore impartial evidence. The parliamentary register of members’ interests may assist in this regard, allowing for a summary report of real estate holdings for each Victorian state politician, although assets may be jointly owned with their spouse.
It is evident that parliamentarians are heavily invested in the property game. The 128 members in both houses of the Victorian parliament have an ownership stake in a total of 254 properties – an average of 2.0 properties per member, conservatively estimated at around $136 million. This is calculated by multiplying the Melbourne median dwelling price of $535,000 by 254 properties, as of September 2014.
The real total is probably considerably higher, with well-off politicians more likely to purchase real estate in prime suburban and coastal areas above the median. Furthermore, non-residential property holdings – farmland, commercial and vacant properties – comprise around 10% of the total and may be worth millions of dollars in some instances.
Property investment is popular right across the political spectrum and is a common thread binding the normally divided and bickering politicians together.
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