Bass Independent Lara Alexander has said that the Rockliff Government’s campaign promise of a 5% levy on Airbnb users, would not only do nothing to combat the existing crisis in the rental accommodation sector, but could have unintended consequences for the local housing market.

The Government announced on Saturday that it would impose a 5% levy on Airbnb users, with a promise that the estimated $11m raised would be used go towards helping first home buyers.

In a Sunday announcement, the Government then clarified that the revenue raised from the Airbnb tax would be used to partly offset the cost of abolishing stamp duty for first home buyers.

Mrs Alexander said that she supported the concept of a 5% levy on short-term accommodation, however she said that while on the face of it the policy seemed like a great win for first home buyers, increasing numbers of studies showed that the most common result of this type of Government intervention, was to simply increase home prices.

“Importantly, this not only does nothing to address the most pressing issue facing many communities today, which is a lack of affordable rental accommodation in our cities, it may actually make it worse,” she said.

“Higher house prices generally mean higher rents as owner/investors look to recoup their investment. It has also become increasingly obvious over the years that the policy of handing out cash to home buyers does nothing to solve the problems it is supposed to address.

“While I support helping young Tasmanians own their own homes, and I’m not convinced this is the best way to do it, at the same time I also support the growing cohort in society who are renters, are happy renting and are not interested in owning a property.

“Any Government worth its salt should be able to generate a flexible enough policy mix that helps everybody.”

Mrs Alexander said a better use of the money raised by a tax on the short-term accommodation space would have been to use it to provide grants for programs that addressed problems caused or exacerbated by the short-term accommodation market.

She said she had spoken to a number of Local Councils about the issue and overwhelmingly they wanted to address the issues of homelessness and at-risk-of homelessness.

However, she said that such programs needed significant funding to start up and maintain, which was where the State Government could step up.

“The Rockliff Government seems determined to exclude Local Councils from this space, but a number I have spoken to have told me they are very keen to devise and implement programs, but lack the funds to do so,” she said.

“In fact, in many places around the world, funds raised by levies on short-term accommodation are then passed on to local government areas or specifically quarantined to be used for programs devised at local level, so it can be used to address problems specific to each area.

“It is actually becoming a very standard practice and it is disappointing the Rockliff Government has not studied the experience of other jurisdictions more closely.” 

Sunday February 18th, 2024

Tags: News