The state of investment in Victoria

Opinion: The State of Investment and Finance in Victoria – An Urgent Call for Policy Reform

Australia’s investment landscape, particularly in Victoria, is currently grappling with a multitude of challenges that demand immediate and thoughtful policy intervention. With housing shortages, escalating building costs, and stifling government policies, the path to securing viable investment opportunities has never been more perilous.

Housing Shortages and Rising Costs

Victoria’s housing market is under intense pressure, exacerbated by surging construction costs and restrictive government policies. Stamp duty, a significant one-time tax imposed on property transactions, is particularly burdensome. With the Victorian Government levying some of the highest stamp duty rates in the country, potential homeowners and investors alike are finding it increasingly difficult to justify investments in this market.

A more pragmatic solution could involve stamp duty concessions, particularly for first-time buyers and developers. As the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and other reputable sources have noted, these targeted concessions could not only alleviate some of these pressures but also stimulate more investments in the state’s property market, offering a glimmer of hope in these challenging times.

Construction and Labour Costs

Building materials and labour costs have skyrocketed, partly driven by the Victorian Government’s substantial infrastructure projects. While these projects are necessary for the state’s development, they have inadvertently strained the available trade supply, pushing prices higher and making private development less financially viable. The limited availability of land further compounds these issues as developers struggle to find affordable plots to break ground.

Environmental Taxes and Their Impact

Environmental taxes, while necessary for sustainability, present an additional financial burden for investors. This creates a delicate balancing act where government policies must also consider the economic implications of these taxes. Realistic, phased approaches to environmental levies could ensure that investments remain attractive while still promoting ecological responsibility.

The Federal Government’s Housing Supply Commitment

The Federal Government’s commitments to boosting housing supply are commendable, yet they fall short of addressing the ground realities in Victoria. Young Australians increasingly rely on their families to secure substantial loans, with average loan amounts of $600,000 and upwards towards $970,000 in some areas. This trend only underscores the urgent need for comprehensive policy reforms to make housing accessible.

The Impact of the COVID Levy

Another significant hurdle is the COVID levy, which compounds the financial stress on both residential and commercial property owners. These additional taxes are driving potential investors away from Victoria, looking towards more economically favourable regions such as Perth and South Australia.

Land Tax Increases and Foreign Investor Levies

Steep land tax increases are another critical issue. These taxes inadvertently stifle commercial and industrial investments. Property owners face the threat of vacancy as commercial renters find themselves unable to cope with rising rent demands. The imposition of foreign investor levies further dissuades global capital, which is crucial for the state’s long-term economic health.

The Need for Systemic Change

The multifaceted issues besetting Victoria’s investment landscape cannot be resolved through short-term fixes. The government needs to adopt a holistic, long-term approach that involves revisiting and potentially revamping current tax policies. Addressing the concerns of both local and foreign investors requires nuanced policy decisions backed by thorough research and stakeholder engagement.

A Call for Accountability and Transparency

There is a pressing need for government accountability in financial decision-making. Reactionary policies driven by political agendas offer no sustainable solution. Australians, including sophisticated investors, seek clarity and certainty about the future. This involves a transparent discourse about fiscal policies and a coordinated approach between the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) efforts to manage inflation and the Federal Government’s fiscal initiatives.

Committed to Finding Solutions

Victoria stands at a critical juncture. Encouraging investment and fostering economic growth requires a concerted effort to reform current policies that stifle financial opportunities. Despite these challenges, Australian Securities remains committed to offering innovative solutions—such as reduced presale requirements and alternative investment opportunities—to help stimulate the property market.

Ultimately, systemic change is imperative. We must shift from short-term, reactionary policies to forward-thinking strategies that will ensure long-term stability and growth. Together, we can pave the way for Victoria’s more prosperous and sustainable future.