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Rents would rise if negative gearing was abolished: Hockey

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The federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has slammed efforts to curb negative gearing, claiming it would drive up rents and deter property investment.

Hockey’s comments followed shadow treasurer Chris Bowen raising the possibility of changes to negative gearing to help raise revenue and increase housing affordability.

Bowen did not suggest abolishing negative gearing, and went so far to say no major party ever would, but told the National Press Club it would be “irresponsible to rule out going to the next election with changes to, for example, negative gearing”.

Bowen said that any proposed changes should not affect existing investors and would need to be taken to an election before being implemented.

“Our principle would be that people who’ve invested in good faith with existing rules shouldn’t be disadvantaged and anything we do should not take away from new housing stock, which is very important for housing affordability,” Bowen told 7.30 host Leigh Sales on Wednesday night, as reported by the ABC.

“And I also I think said to you that I didn’t envisage either side of politics abolishing negative gearing in its entirety.

“But of course when everything is being examined in a tough fiscal situation, any responsible opposition would be considering a range of measures. But we’ll be upfront about anything we do before the next election.”

Hockey, who is soliciting suggestions through the tax white paper process, claimed changes to the existing tax law had many negatives.

“If you change negative gearing then there are significant flow-on consequences from people that rent homes and that needs to be properly considered,” Hockey said.

“A lot of Australians have invested their hard earned money in real estate, and in doing so, they have offset the losses of that real estate against their primary income, in order to give themselves and their children some financial security.

“At the same time, there is a very strong argument that if you were to abolish negative gearing, you would see a significant increase in rents.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Saul Eslake rubbished a defence by Ken Morrison of Property Council of Australia – published yesterday on Property Observer – which claimed that 80% of people who owned investment properties that negative gear were on salaries of $80,000 or less.

Eslake said that income average was the figure reached after deductions from negative gearing.

He said 250,000 of the 1.3 million people who negatively gear claim annual incomes of less than $20,000.

This article was first published on Property Observer.

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