Greens will call on federal government to develop property and sell it for cheap

The Greens want the federal government to enter the property development game as part of a new housing policy to be unveiled on Wednesday afternoon.

The party’s housing spokesperson, Max Chandler-Mather, will use a National Press Club address to call for the government to develop 360,000 homes in the next five years.

Distinct from social housing, these homes would be available for the wider public to buy and rent at discounted prices.

Mr Chandler-Mather will tell the National Press Club the proposal would save participating renters an average of $5,200 a year, and participating homebuyers $260,000 on the price of their home.

Speaking to the ABC ahead of his address, Mr Chandler-Mather blamed private property developers for the housing crisis.

“We don’t need the more high-end apartments that property developers sell but no one can afford except for an investor,” he said.

“What we need are homes that people can actually afford, and the way to do that is for the government to build homes where you cut out the profit margin.”

But the Greens’ own policy costs, prepared by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), cast doubt over the policy, warning it was “highly uncertain” whether it could be implemented as the Greens intended.

And key elements of the policy remain unclear, including how participating homebuyers would be chosen, and how rents would be set.

The announcement comes while the government’s own housing policy remains stuck in the Senate, unable to win the support of the Greens or the Coalition.

The government as city planner

Under the Greens’ plan, the federal government would choose sites, procure land and design buildings itself. It would likely contract out construction to the private sector.

It would also decide what types of houses would be built and where. Half would be “medium-rise” developments, and the other half a combination of high-rises, detached houses and townhouses.