The Greens could soon be in a position to request a rent freeze in Australia’s most populated state following the election this weekend.
Betting markets and opinion polls are predicting Labor leader Chris Minns will become the next premier of NSW after the election on March 25, but his party may not have a majority in its own right.
That means it could be forced to rely on the Greens or independent MPs to form a minority government.
This could put the power in the hands of the Greens, who want to ‘immediately introduce a rent freeze and get rents back under control’.
In Sydney, median weekly house rents during the past year have surged by 21.8 per cent to $945, up from $776, in a city with a low 1.3 per cent rental vacancy rate, SQM Research data showed.
Separate data from PropTrack showed weekly house rents at Clovelly, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, surging by $633 or 46.4 per cent to $1,995 in the year to February.
In East Balmain, which falls within a Greens electorate, weekly house rents soared by 36.6 per cent or $375 to $1,400.
Unit rents in South Granville climbed by 58.2 per cent or $163 to $443 a week.
The Greens could soon be in a position to impose a rent freeze in Australia’s most populated state following an election this Saturday (pictured is the member for Newtown Jenny Leong – who hold the party’s housing and homelessness portfolio)
SQM Research founder and managing director Louis Christopher said a rent freeze would simply encourage landlords to stop offering homes for long-term lease and instead list them on Airbnb to capitalise on strong demand for short-term rental accommodation.
What the Greens want
RENT FREEZE: Hopes to immediately introduce a rent freeze and get rents back under control
LEGALISED CANNABIS: Plans to end the cannabis black market, reduce police spending on the war on drugs and redirect resources towards drug treatment and other social services
TEACHER PAY RISES: Immediately give all NSW public school teachers a minimum 15 per cent pay rise plus an assessment of inflation over the next 2 years. That would be almost double the 7.8 per cent inflation rate
‘Putting a cap on rents isn’t going to fix the problem in the medium-term – it’s just like a short-term, Band-Aid solution that will make the problem worse,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘You got a landlord out there thinking, “Bugger this, I’m going to just put it on Airbnb and see how I go there”.
‘There has been this massive move towards short-term leasing on standard, suburban stock, your standard, three-bedroom home.
‘I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in homelessness.’
The Reserve Bank of Australia’s 10 interest rate rises since May have also made it harder for developers to borrow, with the cash rate now at an 11-year high of 3.6 per cent.
This produced a 27.6 per cent slump in building approvals in January, as measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Mr Christopher said a rent freeze would simply discourage builders and potential investors, which would reduce the available supply of accommodation for the 95 per cent of renters leasing in the private market.
This in turn would lead to even higher rents.
‘If you decide to put a cap on rents, and lots of other restrictions, would-be property investors will throw their hands up in the air and say “this is all too hard, it’s too risky to invest in property”,’ he said.
‘We have less supply for the greater population.
‘Property developers cannot go ahead and build a property unless they have pre-sales because the banks won’t lend to them – the pre-sales come from owner-occupiers and they come from property investors.’
In Sydney, median weekly house rents during the past year have surged by 21.8 per cent to $945, up from $776, in a city with a low 1.3 per cent rental vacancy rate, SQM Research data showed (pictured is a rental queue in Randwick)
Sportsbet punters are expecting Labor to win from the Liberal Party the Sydney seats of East Hills, Penrith, Riverstone, Parramatta and Heathcote.
That would give Labor 42 seats in the state’s lower house of parliament, which would be five short of a majority.
How a minority government could be formed in NSW
Labor or the Coalition need 47 seats in the 93-member lower house to form a government.
Otherwise, they have to form a minority government with crossbench MPs.
Sportsbet has Labor and the Coalition with 42 seats each.
The current NSW Legislative Assembly has nine crossbench MPs, including three Greens and former members of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet has been relying on independents Greg Piper and Alex Greenwich, without making major policy concessions, after two MPs Gareth Ward and John Sidoti were kicked out of the Liberal Party, causing the Coalition to lose its majority.
Labor leader Chris Minns could do something similar to govern in minority.
Mr Minns could therefore need the support of Greens MPs in Balmain, Newtown and Ballina, plus two independents to become premier – in one possible scenario.
Bruce Hawker, who was former Labor premier Bob Carr’s chief of staff in 1995 when the party narrowly won from Opposition, said a Labor minority government in NSW was the most likely outcome.
‘I think you got to assume that a minority government is a real possibility and that was something we had to think about in 1995,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
But Mr Hawker, who now chairs Bruce Hawker Consulting, said Mr Minns could also rely on a large group of independents to have confidence and supply to form a government, and not implement policies to appease crossbench MPs.
‘You’ve got to be very careful with these sorts of things, if you go ahead and make changes, which you said you weren’t going to make, then that can cause problems,’ he said.
Mr Hawker said this meant Labor would not be limited to just dealing with the Greens if it lacked a majority.
‘There will be a broad spectrum of people who they can sit down and talk to say, “We want your support”,’ Mr Hawker said.
The Greens also want to decriminalise all recreational drugs, and are campaigning to legalise cannabis for recreational use and possession.
‘We will create a regulated cannabis market in NSW to reduce the harms from cannabis use while also preventing the over-commercialisation of the cannabis market by large corporations,’ its website reads.
Betting markets and opinion polls are expecting Chris Minns (pictured with wife Anna) to become the next premier of NSW, but his Labor Party won’t have a majority in its own right
‘Legalising cannabis will increase tax revenue to the government, create new jobs and inject potentially billions into the NSW economy.
‘It will end the cannabis black market, reduce police spending on the war on drugs and redirect resources towards drug treatment and other social services.
‘That’s why the Greens will work to decriminalise all drugs, establish a legal cannabis market and introduce harm reduction measures and drug and alcohol services across NSW.’
While the Greens are less inclined to support the Coalition, they would be unlikely to support Labor’s plan to buy back Eraring station at Lake Macquarie near Newcastle.
Mr Minns has floated this idea as a way of keeping the coal-fired power station open beyond its slated 2025 closure date, with the Australian Energy Regulator predicting a 20 per cent increase in NSW electricity bills during the next financial year.
He would be keen to avoid the mistake former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard made in 2010 when she promised there would be no carbon tax, only to introduce one in 2011 when she came to rely on the Greens and regional independents to form a minority government.