From beyond reach to beyond hope: frontline workers priced out of Queensland

The same frontline workers who guided Queensland through natural disasters and the COVID pandemic are now being left out in the cold, with new research showing affordable housing is beyond reach of most nurses, police officers, and teachers.

The Beyond reach report, released by the Property Council of Australia, warns essential workers are among those hardest hit by the worsening housing crisis due to a growing divide between the cost of housing and what the average Queenslander can afford.

Property Council of Australia Queensland Executive Director Jess Caire said the report’s findings paint a grim picture for home buyers and renters in key frontline roles.

“Most of South East Queensland is a ‘no go zone’ for frontline workers hoping to get their foot on the property ladder,” Ms Caire said.

“These are the same people we rely on to save lives, fight crime and teach our children, and it will be Queensland’s loss when they are forced to choose a new career or a new state to live in because they can’t afford to live here.

Drawing on data from the Queensland Government Statisticians Office, REIQ and CoreLogic, the report applied average household incomes for childcare workers, teachers, nurses, police and public servants and measured them against the median price for new and established homes and apartments.

“The research shows no essential worker can afford to buy or rent a home, or unit, on their own in South East Queensland,” Ms Caire said.

“For dual income families with an average gross income of $150,000, buying an established home is ranked ‘beyond reach’. It’s a similar story for house and land packages, which are deemed ‘unaffordable’.

The first Beyond Reach report, published in 2007, predicted Queensland would face ‘a housing crisis of dire proportions’ without pragmatic policy solutions. These included improving development assessments, ensuring adequate land supply to meet demand, and providing key infrastructure to support growth.

Fast forward 17 years, and with 12 new and/or increased taxes imposed on the sector and government fees and charges contributing to more than 30 per cent of the cost of a new apartment and house and land package, which means the first nine years of your mortgage are spent paying off taxes, fees and charges – plus interest. Ms Caire said the warnings have proven accurate.

“Queensland’s prevailing policy settings are exacerbating the housing crisis,” she said.

“Every new tax on property, regardless of the intended recipient, inflates the cost of housing and is ultimately paid for by Queenslanders.

“Housing is more expensive than it needs to be, red tape is making it more difficult to deliver, and the slow pace of infrastructure delivery has made it harder to unlock new sites.

“The initial Beyond Reach report from 2007 predicted this housing crisis and its policy recommendations fell on deaf ears.

“Queenslanders are paying an extraordinary price for this, with property-related fees and charges generating 38 per cent of the taxation revenue that funded this year’s State Budget.

“We will be calling on the newly formed government, post the October election, to commit to a thorough evidence-based review of the impact taxation has on the delivery of new homes in Queensland.

“It’s time for political bravery and real industry consultation. We need decisive action to change the policies and tax settings that punish growth and punish home buyers,” she said.

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