With the state election fast approaching, the major players have been out in force spruiking their promises for housing and liveability in Victoria. There are a swathe of issues plaguing Victorians, and although Melbourne has been named the most liveable city in Australia – and indeed the world – for seven years, it has recently slipped in the rankings and now sits second, behind Vienna.
The city’s population is on the increase, which will only put further pressure on infrastructure and resources, particularly transport, with trains, trams and roads across town desperately due for an upgrade.
So what goodies is each party bringing to the table?
In an effort to retain power, the Andrews Government has renewed their focus on Melbourne’s outskirts, where many of its die-hard supporters reside. Premier Daniel Andrews says he plans to spend $50 billion creating a rail loop through the outer suburbs, making travel between them, and the airport, more convenient.
There’s also talk of a fast rail solution to the regional traveller’s woes, and he has pledged to build community hospitals in outlying areas such as Eltham, Whittlesea and Point Cook.
Sustainability is also on the agenda, with $1.24 billion to be funnelled into a solar power program which would make investing in this technology much more affordable for Victorians. Home owners could install their panels at half the retail price, with an interest-free loan over four years to cover the balance. In addition, Labour has pledged to invest in solar batteries – the key to making solar a genuine power solution.
Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy, has a number of plans which he says will promote growth, while also keeping Melbourne liveable.
He’s heavily focused on outer suburbs, with plans to create a new City of Sunbury in the booming west, as well as appoint a Minister for Geelong take the reins in the booming bridesmaid city. Guy also has his sights set on regional Victoria, with a view to decentralise the population – and the economy. Jobs (and people) would shift to regional towns, while fast rail would enable more efficient travel between these new powerhouses and the Big Smoke. Population growth would be also be closely monitored.
In terms of housing, Guy has proposed changes to zoning laws, in an effort to curtail over-development, as well as the release of new land on the outskirts of the city, which should help first homebuyers into the market.
For the Greens, affordability and sustainability are key tenets of their election promises. Leader Samantha Ratnam has a five-point strategy to make solar power accessible to those in rental accommodation and public housing. The plan could see renters and those living in apartments given the given the opportunity to buy solar panels on nearby buildings, with the energy produced awarded as a credit on their bills.
Landlords would need to upgrade their investment properties and meet new energy efficiency standards, including lighting, insulation and draught-proofing, with grants on offer to help those struggling with the cost, while public housing would also be upgraded to meet these same requirements. Owner-occupiers aren’t left out in the cold either, with $1000 grants available to replace old gas heaters with more efficient heat pumps.
For new builds, both residential and commercial, the Greens are aiming for 8-star energy ratings, and have promised to reserve a certain proportion of new developments for affordable housing. The Greens have also proposed a change to building regulations which would require all new homes to come equipped with solar panels or solar hot water, to take maximum advantage of the Aussie sunshine.
Now that you know what each party is planning, has it swayed your vote?