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Queensland Budget offers “little hope” for long-term housing solutions

The Real Estate Institute of Queensland says Queenslanders looking to enter the property market or secure long-term shelter for their family will find “little hope” in the State Budget.

REIQ Chief Executive Officer Antonia Mercorella said while short-term handouts would provide a welcome reprieve, the Budget missed a chance to plan and reshape Queensland for the future.

“The elephant in the room remains around how Queensland will adequately boost its housing supply,” she said.

The Palaszczuk Government delivered the Budget on Tuesday, lauding itself for delivering the biggest Budget surplus of any state government in the country, some $12.3 billion, in the 2022-23 financial year.

Yet this will quickly revert to a $2.2 billion deficit in 2023-24, with small surpluses of $105 million and $377 million follow.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Budget focused on the cost of living, with an investment of $5 billion for the delivery of social and affordable housing and homelessness support.

This includes $3 billion to support the Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021-2025 and $2 billion for the Housing Investment Fund.

The Quickstarts Queensland social housing construction program will receive a $322 million injection to expand the program by 500 extra homes, while $249.1 million will be spent on retaining and upgrading other dwellings for social housing.

An average $130 million every year will be allocated from the Housing Investment Fund to affordable and social housing outcomes.

In addition to that, $64.3 million has been allocated to purchase, lease and operate emergency supported accommodation in Brisbane, while $28 million will be directed to the Immediate Housing Response Package in 2023-24 to provide emergency accommodation for families living in insecure and unsafe conditions and rental support to help people maintain tenancies.

“This is a government and Budget aht’s focused on tackling the impacts of national cost-of-living and housing pressures,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We’re pulling every lever possible to ensure Queenslanders have a roof over their head.”

The Budget also included a $118 million commitment as the next instalment of a $519 million, four-year program to build more than 400 homes and maintain 3000 existing properties for frontline workers in regional areas.

“We know the rental market is tight, so the $118.2 million dedicated to building new houses for our essential workers is crucial,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“It will help ensure essential workers in communities are not putting extra pressure on the private rental market.”

The new initiatives come on the back of already announced measures, including the build-to-rent program, investing in community housing organisations, rental grants and bond loans.

Under the build-to-rent program the government will provide tax concessions for eligible developments that provide at least 10 per cent of dwellings as affordable homes at discounted rents. 

The initiative is estimated to result in $15.5 million over four years in tax relief, with ongoing costs up to 30 June 2050 in the form of tax concessions to support eligible build-to-rent developments that become operational between 1 July 2023 and 30 June 2030.

Ms Mercorella welcomed the formalisation of the incentives previously announced for the build-to-rent sector.

“The REIQ have been advocates for incentivising build-to-rent schemes in Queensland, as a way to complement the traditional private housing investor and to help ease the pressures of the rental crisis,” she said.

“It’s particularly pleasing to see the flexibility extended to ensure the developments are mixed use, however questions remain around the compliance requirements and the definition of ‘affordable housing’.

“We also note that the incentives provided to large institutional investors are at direct odds with the way small investors are treated. This puts the future drivers of housing supply at risk if a majority of resources are directed towards build-to-rent projects.

“We need diversity of housing to meet the ever-changing demands of Queensland’s growing population, so we need to be encouraging investment in all types of housing.”

Ms Mercorella said increased rental rebates for low-income families and individuals and the concessions to ease cost of living pressures were welcome announcements, particularly with the cessation of NRAS.

“The continued Government Managed Housing Rental Rebate and new electricity Cost of Living Rebates will provide reprieve for Queenslanders doing it tough,” she said.

“However, social housing funding still remains dreadfully deficient with expenditure on social housing in this budget 75 per cent below historical averages, which puts Queensland dead last in the country.

“Sadly, there are no incentives to meaningfully boost supply and increase the current rate of build, while we face a continued shortfall and a 50,000-waitlist growing longer by the day – all at a time when government seems intent on reducing private housing supply.”

Ms Mercorella said this year’s budget had missed a valuable opportunity to reform property tax.

“Stamp duty significantly hinders home ownership, discourages housing turnover, and restricts mobility, and its abolishment would open doors in Queensland for many,” she said.

“The windfall from coal royalties gave the Government the opportunity to scrap stamp duty and move to a long-term, broad-based land tax.

“Taxes from property have doubled over the last decade, hitting property investors who provide the vast majority of housing for Queenslanders who rent their homes.

“With the Government expecting to raise $31 billion over the next four years from the property sector, it’s disappointing that there’s no relief in sight for property investors.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.