Migrant Communities Shouldn’t Be Blamed
Homelessness organizations and community service groups are speaking out against blaming migrant communities for Australia’s housing affordability crisis. In an open letter, 40 organizations, including Anglicare Australia and the Australian Council of Social Service, are urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton to take responsibility and show leadership instead of scapegoating migrants.
Poor Policy Choices and Decades of Crisis
The letter emphasizes that the housing crisis has been building for decades and is not solely caused by the recent increase in migration due to the pandemic. The organizations argue that poor policy choices by past governments have driven up housing costs to unsustainable levels. They point to the chronic undersupply of social housing and the inflationary impacts of investor tax incentives as major factors contributing to the crisis.
Migration Is Not the Main Cause
While there has been a recent surge in migration, Associate Professor Ben Phillips from the Australian National University Center for Social Research and Methods explains that housing affordability issues have been present for years. He states that immigration is not the main cause of rental price changes and that blaming migrants is unfair. While migration has had some impact on the rental market and led to shortages, it is a short-term issue that does not require a change in policy.
The Housing Market Can Accommodate Migration
Prof Phillips emphasizes that the country’s housing market has been able to accommodate the influx of migrants. He believes that the focus should be on examining the quality of housing supply and ensuring that dwellings are located near public transport and in desirable areas.
Addressing the Crisis
The federal government has released a migration strategy aimed at returning migration to pre-pandemic levels by the next financial year. The strategy includes stricter rules for temporary visa holders and better pathways for skilled migration to address shortages in high-paying and in-demand industries.
Additionally, a new national housing supply and affordability council will begin its work in December. The independent council will provide advisory support for housing reform, with the goal of improving housing affordability. Housing Minister Julie Collins emphasizes the importance of increasing the supply of all types of housing and seeks advice from leading housing experts.
In conclusion, it is crucial to understand that blaming migrants for the housing crisis is misguided. The crisis has deep roots in poor policy choices and long-standing issues with housing affordability. By addressing these underlying factors and focusing on improving the quality and availability of housing, we can work towards a more equitable and sustainable housing market.