We are a city on the cusp of enormous opportunity. We punch well above our weight as a liveable city compared with many others around the world, but we face serious challenges that put that at risk.
Brisbane is a city built on a flood plain, with a long history of severe flooding. This not only affects the budgets of governments and councils, it creates an existential crisis for many residents. Will I have a home in 10 years’ time?
These flood events are becoming more devastating and widespread in 2022.
We’ve seen house prices and rents soar. In some suburbs there’s annual property price increases of 30% and over 20% for rentals. It’s not uncommon to hear of weekly rent increases of $150 at the end of each lease.
Families, individuals and our most vulnerable are being made homeless.
There are 50,000 people and families waiting on the social housing register, south-east Queensland or Queensland wide.
We know the scale of the problem in 2022, but what is the solution? That’s a little more complicated.
There are others leading by example. Vienna’s social housing program ensures long term secure housing for people as they enter the market through their careers, creating strong vibrant communities along the way. Vienna’s city government owns and manages 220,000 housing units.
Brisbane has an amazing success story called the Brisbane Housing Company. Founded in 2002 by the Labor Council and State Government, the initial seed funding has been transformed into $350m worth of affordable rental stock totalling 1700 units of housing.
The quickest and simplest thing Brisbane City Council can do to support affordable housing providers deliver new affordable rental stock is infrastructure charge discounts. Tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure charge discounts have been gifted by this LNP Council over recent years, but not one cent of that has gone to housing providers.
In fact most of it has gone to private developers building 5-star hotels.
We don’t need more luxury hotels, we need housing variety and we need more affordable rentals. But we need a Council willing to support that.
Land is becoming more expensive and we’ll see a situation where more land becomes undevelopable. An existing shortage is now compounded by climate change. We need to rethink planning laws and fast track sustainable investment in housing a new generation of people.
With wages stagnant for a decade, creeping inflation and supply shortages, this is a storm many won’t weather, let alone the devastating effects for future generations to come.
We’ve had government interventions in the housing space before. Various policies in the past included subsidised interest rates and rent, grants and government housing.
Labor Governments understand the obligation to deliver secure and safe housing. We know our opponents don’t hold the same convictions. Principles and values matter when it comes to important policy like housing. Unlike the Liberal Party / LNP opponents, we were founded on the basis of understanding and using the power of government to make sure no one is left behind.
We once had a Council willing to take up these fights and have these conversations. And we can again.
We should leverage the investment required for the 2032 Olympic Games Athletes Village. The Tokyo Olympics saw 23 building housing 12,000 people. The State Government should commit to reserving that stock for social and affordable housing after the Olympics.
Vacancy levies, investing directly with housing providers, offering incentives and in some cases requiring the provision of social housing as part of key developments should all be considered. Nothing should be off the table.
There is no doubt the Federal and State Governments need to do the heavy lifting here and we need to see more results from their investments. But as Australia’s largest Council and the host city for the 2032 Olympics, Brisbane must do more.
Councillor Jared Cassidy is the Councillor for the Deagon Ward and Leader of the Opposition in Brisbane City Council