Inner City Housing Follies – Electorate Stacking Masquerading as Concern

Photo by sarflondondunc FlickrRecently a Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) rejected a 112-apartment development application in the inner Sydney area of Balmain. Nothing to note there in itself, it is an entirely normal outcome.  But the response from councillors and activists reveals the core economic illiteracy, and long term social engineering at the heart of the ALP’s and Greens approach to urban planning close to our city centres. Said ALP Councillor Darcy Byrne:

 none of the 112 units were allocated to affordable housing for key workers so the redevelopment was “all pain with no gain.”

Firstly, this reveals the economic lunacy of Cr Byrne’s class warfare agenda. High housing prices? Celebrate the removal of 112 units from supply because they aren’t designated ‘affordable’ and allocated to Cr Byrne’s preferred constituency. That reduced supply is at the heart of the affordability problem? Not on Cr Byrne’s radar.

That there is evidence  good, locally-controlled planning can coincide with an expansion of housing supply, keeping prices stable with good local amenity in both Germany and Switzerland? Irrelevant to the ALP Left – the answer is forced subsidies and forced regulation.


The problem of affordable housing is strictly caused by government policy. It has nothing to do with developer decisions, gentrification or any of the class-based fear-mongering Cr Byrne enjoys. It is driven by planning controls that reduce supply in the inner and outer urban areas, and increase costs in both. Many of those drivers lie at the doorstep of the former ALP state government, and at the doorstep of local councils controlled either by Labor or the Greens. Cr Byrne’s Leichhardt Council is the poster boy for supply restrictions that increase prices [posts to follow].

Now Cr Byrne – who works for Left convener and powerbroker Anthony Albanese – has for years talked about more affordable housing and ‘key workers’ in inner urban areas. His mention of ‘key workers’ always refers to nurses, teachers, firefighters, ambos and similar, who have to travel long distances to work, frequently on odd rosters. He studiously ignores cleaners, convenience store workers, hospitality staff, late night retail workers and others who earn far less than his ‘key workers’, and who have exactly the same rostering and travel issues.

Why? Might it have something to do with the unionisation rates of his ‘key workers’? The formerly safe ALP state seats of Sydney, Balmain, Marrickville and Heffron, and the Federal seats of Sydney, Grayndler, Reid and Kingsford Smith are all changing rapidly. Both Green and Liberal votes are increasing.

As one of the few areas where Labor feels safe, that demographic change is very threatening, and threatening to the heartland of ALP staffers and union hacks.

But the real questions are: If Cr Byrne is truly concerned about looking after our ordinary workers, why does his affordability crusade focus on highly unionised groups that on average earn above the median wage? And why should PAs, retail workers, plumbers, apprentices and shopowners be excluded from the largesse he strong-arms out of developers wanting to build something within his council area? And above all else, why does he celebrate the one thing that makes affordability worse – the restriction of housing supply?

  1. Gang Green
    • James Falk

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