Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Con-artist at work

In Australia, the Family First senator Bob Day says his family-owned construction empire, Homestead Homes and Home Australia, which owns large building companies in Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, would not benefit if he achieved his long-term ambition of scrapping planning regulations. Day is also a former national president of the Housing Industry Association.

Day has a close association with Demographia, contributing a foreword to its latest affordability survey, and conducting media interviews to promote the survey. Demographia favours urban expansion and produces annual affordability surveys and which blames rising house prices on restrictive local planning regulations. The latest survey, generated considerable media coverage in Australia, concludes there is a growing “awareness of the economic damage that has been inflicted by strong land use regulation” and calls for fundamental changes although many economists argue the root causes of surging house prices are multi-factorial – involving things such as taxes and charges, the cost of finance, government incentives, and not just regulations around land release.

Any good research clearly explains its assumptions, methods and data sources. Demographia fails to do this. Although it includes a long list of sources “consulted,” there are no details about the information actually used so it is impossible to evaluate their methods and data accuracy. It is important to apply accurate and comprehensive analysis when evaluating affordability. Demographia have a political agenda. As a result, their analysis incorporates various biases and omissions.

As one commentator writes in the Guardian “ Unaffordable housing. Many reasons for this, the two major being speculation driving up prices and a huge decline in public housing being constructed due to banks and people like yourself, encouraging people to borrow heaps of money for "the Australian dream" paying off a huge over-sized house for the rest of their lives to have to sell it to pay for nursing home and medical treatment when they get old, and encouraging governments to push such an agenda by propping up housing bubbles with tax concessions and grants. Lack of land isn't one of them. That just stops banks, developers and large builders from making huge amounts of money flogging over-sized houses miles from amenities and transport to people who long term won’t be able to afford them.”

Clive Palmer influences Government decision on the Mining Tax and Carbon Tax. Bob Day influences Government decisions on planning regulations. If Day was arguing for policies to reduce stratospheric levels of income equality, or the means to halt the tax evading crimes of corporations, or to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders horrendous disadvantage, or to end the horrors of domestic violence, all issues that impact upon his constituency then he may  consider himself a man of honour and worthy of support - but no – he is in it for himself.  Does he actually believe he can con people into believing that a relaxation of planning regulations wouldn't benefit him, his family and his greedy supporters? Property developers never EVER have any community’s interests at heart. In fact rampant development without forward planning for infrastructure, jobs and services cause far more problems than they solve. Planning regulations are democracy at work. Without them we would not have paved suburban roads, water, sewage, electricity and gas supplies to the door, public transport to new developments, green belts and nature preservation, accessible schools and hospitals etc. Let the developers loose and we will be back to the dirt track suburbs and back-yard dunnies [outdoor toilets]. Bob Day is a developer motivated by the dollar, or perhaps he can point us to the affordable housing for the socially disadvantaged he's built to convince us otherwise. Housing profit first and foremost. .

And he also wants the minimum wage safety net to be weakened, to boot.

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