QCOSS response to election promises

Earlier this month QCOSS released the Queensland Election Statement 2017 – A manifesto for change. This Statement identified that in both the current world environment and locally, ‘business as usual’ will not work if we are to ensure that all Queenslanders experience social and economic wellbeing. Working to an election or budget cycle will not work either. What is required is a long-term shared vision and the commitment to get there.

In the face of this, QCOSS is calling on the incoming Queensland Government to govern differently, to work differently, to truly lead our state into the future; and to approach the many challenges and opportunities that we have with renewed vigor and an appetite for vision-led change.

The approach outlined in the Statement is for:

  • a government that leads with vision;
  • a government that listens; and
  • a government that acts together.

A close-up of some of the policy announcements

We have been analysing and comparing the policy announcements that have so far been made by each party and have identified policy commitments across our four focus areas, however not all four by each party.

Cost of living has dominated the announcements made so far.  Two critical areas affecting the cost of living for Queenslanders are housing and energy.  Following is a synopsis of the parties' commitments on these two areas.

Housing

QCOSS position on housing

Housing is a core human right and is critical to the social and economic participation of all members of our community.  QCOSS and the Property Council of Australia this week released a joint position paper aimed at placing housing affordability firmly on the agenda of the incoming Government.

Comparing Policies

Despite the importance of housing affordability to Queenslanders, the Greens is the only party to have released a housing policy for the election, although­ Labor has outlined their priorities in their state platform and in the 10-year Queensland Housing Strategy.  The Queensland Housing Strategy indicates that 380,000 additional homes will be needed by 2027.

Following are announced targets from Labor and the Greens for the construction of new social and affordable dwellings over 10 years, compared to what QCOSS has identified is required to meet the need.

 

Queensland Housing Strategy 2017-2027 (Labor)

QCOSS & Property Council

Queensland Greens “Home for All”

Social

4,522

15,000

 

Affordable

1,034

38,000

200,000

Total

5,556

53,000

200,000

 

Labor

The Labor state platform includes priorities of assistance to tenants, housing liveability and design, funding and innovative housing finance, housing cost, regulation and development of affordable housing and public housing. The Queensland Housing Strategy is focused on growth (diversity, supply and efficiency); prosperity (pathways to success, tools for success and ‘closing the gap’), connections (service delivery reform, youth and reduced homelessness), and confidence (housing pathways, residential tenancies, regulated accommodation and housing design and amenity).

Greens

The Greens Housing Policy focuses on both tenants’ rights and on affordability.

Tenants’ rights – The policy grants all tenants access to unlimited leases, only terminated with 12 months’ notice, on reasonable grounds. It restricts landlords to biannual rent increases and grants tenants’ permission to make minor renovations. There is a requirement for landlords to maintain a property to minimum standards and it grants tenants a right to have a pet. The Greens say they will Investigate democratic housing in tenancy management.

Affordability  The Greens want to establish a Housing Trust to construct 1 million homes over 30 years (200,000 homes in 10 years, at 16,198 jobs per year). They want to remove income eligibility requirement for social housing and make universally available half the dwellings (100,000) in the first 10 years. They want to mandate new dwellings, adhere to liveability, environmental sustainability and comfort standards.  They will also implement a vacancy tax which will levy a five per cent tax on the capital-improved value of vacant properties in Brisbane to encourage wealthy property developers to start putting properties up for sale and rent.

We welcome Labor and the Greens’ acknowledgement of housing as a critical issue for Queenslanders.  We call on the LNP, One Nation and the Katter Party to reveal their priorities for tackling housing affordability.

Energy

QCOSS position on energy

Electricity is an essential service that contributes to households meeting basic needs, providing access to fundamental resources such as lighting, hot water, refrigeration and increasingly, communication.  Electricity is crucial to a strong foundation enabling people to maintain their health and wellbeing, find employment, care for their family and maintain social connections.

The way in which the energy market is changing is a powerful contributor to the experience of poverty and disadvantage in our communities.  Many people risk being left behind, excluded, or made worse off as prices increase and the energy market evolves. Because energy is an essential service, without equity in the provision of energy and the distribution of costs and benefits across consumers, we can’t possibly hope for everyone to have equal opportunity to participate meaningfully in social and economic life. When it comes to energy policy, QCOSS is looking for policies that put downward pressure on prices, provide an effective safety net and target assistance to those who are most in need.

Comparing Policies

Energy is a key focus for all parties in the election, however while all parties have acknowledged the problem, their approaches to tackling it vary considerably.

LNP

The LNP has made a number of commitments to reduce electricity prices for all. Their promises include restructuring the government-owned generators into three separate entities to enhance competition; putting consumer representatives on the boards of the energy network businesses and linking executive bonuses to affordability and reliability outcomes; and writing down the regulated asset bases of Queensland’s government-owned distribution businesses by $2B.  The LNP has also committed to a new coal-fired power station in Queensland.

Labor

Labor has committed to pegging regional electricity price increases to CPI for the next two years; providing $50 price relief to all households; introducing no-interest loans for the purchase of solar and batteries; providing rebates for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances; and a trial for 1,000 rental households to access the benefits of solar energy.

Greens

The Greens propose to cut household electricity bills by $600 per year. They will transition government-owned energy corporations towards public authorities; scrap private electricity retailers; and crack down on price-gouging by coal and gas generators.  The Greens will invest $15 billion over five years to build publicly-owned clean energy and storage, creating 5,500 jobs annually. They also want to enshrine affordable, reliable electricity into Energy Charter and take back control from the Australian Energy Regulator.

Katter Party

The Katter party has made several promises to address energy concerns, including committing to changes to the calculations that set network revenues by banning Optimised Replacement Cost valuation methodology, removing the Competitive Neutrality Fee and removing unnecessary margins applied by Ergon Energy. They are also committed to the introduction of competition into the regional retail energy market and support the CopperString project to connect the North West of Queensland to the National Electricity Market.

Some of these commitments have the potential to put downward pressure on electricity prices, however others risk taking us further away from that goal. There is also little being put on the table that specifically targets low-income and disadvantaged Queenslanders who are in need of additional assistance to cope with the rising cost of energy.