No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis (Peter Mares, Text)
Why are Australia’s property prices so high? Is it a shortage of supply? The tax system rewarding speculation? In No Place Like Home, writer and journalist Peter Mares gives a lucid overview of Australia’s housing crisis, arguing that we are building too much in car-dependent outer suburbs, our middle ring suburbs are undeveloped and could accommodate more homes and the tax system needs to be reformed. Mares points out that one perverse outcome of our current housing market is the estimated thousands of dwellings left empty, and argues that the problem lies with investors who don’t see housing as a steady income to be derived from rent, but rather from capital gains. In the words of Stephen Kirchner of the Centre for Independent Studies, ‘It is often rational to leave property vacant when prospective capital gains provide a sufficient return on the investment.’ Mares does offer some interesting solutions to the problem, pointing to reformed property taxes as a way of raising revenue to build more social housing, as well as improved tenancy laws. This book offers a timely discussion of an increasingly urgent and complex problem. Accessible and sympathetic, No Place Like Home should kick off some serious policy debates and will appeal to the general reader.
Chris Saliba is the co-owner of North Melbourne Books and a freelance reviewer