HousingReaders' Letters

Sydney a ‘playground of an elite’

At the request of the Liberal state government the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) was asked to review models of calculating rent for social and affordable housing tenants. The government claims its motivation for the review is to improve incentives for workforce participation by an appropriate rent setting framework.

According to the review, when the public system was being developed in the 1950s and 1960s, the majority of tenants included family members who worked. Now Centrelink benefits are the main source of income for more than 90 per cent of social housing tenants. Consequently, according to the chair of IPART, Dr Peter Boxall, as tenants pay 25 per cent of the household income in rent, the taxpayer subsidy has increased 33 per cent in the past five years.

Possible new models of calculating rents will depend upon location, the size of the rental property and the number of tenants residing in it. Given the recent emphasis of the government upon the hardship created for workers living long distances from their place of employment, and the number of rental properties close to the city whose tenants are pensioners, whether Newstart, Disability Support Pension or Aged Pension, it does seem that the real objective of the government is to price social tenants out of the market.

It seems that the government is intent on creating a very different Sydney – the playground of an elite, serviced by worker “ants” and the poor pushed to the outskirts. The introduction of new models of rent calculation reveals the hypocrisy of the government’s claim that the aim of its recent plans for redevelopment of, for instance, the Waterloo Estate, is to create a better “social mix”.


Catherine Skipper


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