Labor Mayoral candidate, Tracey Price, has launched a housing strategy to counter the Green’s proposed rent freeze amidst record low vacancy rates in Brisbane and the South-East.

“When there is this much pressure in the market the risk of taking out further rental supply is too great. Renters do not want to have their home sold out from under them,” Ms Price said yesterday.

Ms Price claims Labor has a ‘real plan’ to address rising rents and low vacancy rates.

“No-one thinks that there should be unreasonable rent increases, and we know that we need more affordable housing across the board, to rent and to buy.”

Labor proposes a ‘comprehensive housing strategy’ that will focus on increasing density where it is ‘well located’, such as areas close to public transport, employment centres, parks, libraries, and shopping centres: a plan that in many respects has resonances with the Lord Mayor’s Housing Supply Action Plan.

Ms Price says Labor in Council will work with the development industry on ways to supply housing by auditing current Development Approvals that have not started within the approved timeframe and an audit of vacant land in the High-Density Residential Zone. She also says Labor will consult the community about increasing the density of these sites where appropriate, focussing on ‘build to rent’ incentives and penalties for land banking.

“Labor in Council will introduce a whole new system of neighbourhood planning that puts the community first,’ Ms Price said yesterday.

Last week, The Greens’ candidate for Lord Mayor, Jonathan Sriranganathan, announced a policy for a Two-Year Rent Freeze, saying, “Our message to landlords is pretty straightforward: If you put up the rent, we’ll put up your rates.”

Ms Price has labelled the Greens’ plan a “complicated and extreme idea.”

“The Greens plan to jack up rates on rental properties by 750% when there has been any increase since 1 January this year is irresponsible and will only make the issues for renters worse, which is not what any of us want,” said Ms Price.

Asked how Labor can ensure new housing gets built given rising building and labour costs, Ms Price said:

“Inflation is affecting everyone. Renters, homeowners, people looking to buy, and of course developers and Community Housing Providers. Labor in Council voted to reduce infrastructure charges for developers and Community Housing Providers to support them building more homes, more quickly.”

Developers have complained about the role of unions in holding back developments. Earlier this year, a CFMEU blockade of a development site owned by Pradella in West End halted building works. The building industry claims unions are forcing up labour costs.

Ms Price said people have the right to go to work and ensure they have good conditions and are treated fairly.

“Labor is a party that fundamentally believes in the right of workers to join their union and take action that they believe is appropriate. Those relationships and wage negotiations are regulated under federal legislation. We will work with unions and developers to support building more homes across Brisbane.”

Under its Brisbane Sustainable Growth Plan, Council has already established a dedicated build-to-rent unit to fast-track approvals. However, Ms Price said the LNP Council has not kept up with the housing needs of the city and its approach to planning is not equipped to provide housing options and essential community infrastructure.

Tracey Price, Labor candidate for Mayor.

“The housing supply problems we are currently facing is as a result of the LNPs complacency over the past 20 years they have held Council around housing growth.

They have neglected to plan for the growth projections. Their only solution is to cut services. We would work with Community Housing Providers and the State Government to identify further opportunities,” Tracey Price.

In September this year, the Guardian Australia reported that ABS data showed that in the Brisbane LGA, 5,952 dwellings are vacant and not part of the available rental stock. The Greens have proposed a vacancy levy to ensure homes are not kept empty.

Ms Price said there are many reasons why properties may be vacant, “which is why our first step would be to audit vacant land and then work with developers, Community Housing Providers, and residents to activate every available housing option, noting of course the need for appropriate maintenance and dwelling standards.”

The housing crisis is likely to remain a focal point as the electoral race heats up.