Australia’s millions of property investors will soon have a new outlet to lobby the government, with a group set to launch aiming to protect their interests.
In a draft announcement provided to Domain, the soon-to-be-formed Property Investors Council of Australia (PICA) describes themselves as a not-for-profit association run “by property investors, for the interests of property investors”.
But it also aims to stop investors from being “singled out”, saying property investors have been blamed as the main cause of unaffordable housing as well as being slugged higher lending costs and being subject to potential tax grabs by the government.
For this reason they say they need a “strong and united voice”, with aims for the group to amass a membership base of more than one million members, including existing and aspiring property investors. The organisation will launch at the Sydney Property Buyer Expo on Saturday.
I am really surprised that this body is being created, as the government continues to protect investors over first home buyers.Taj Singh, First Home Buyers Australia
Among the issues that the group will be tackling are any proposed changes to negative gearing, chair of the group and Empower Wealth chief executive Ben Kingsley said. Board members are required to be investment property owners.
Mr Kingsley said the overall goal of the organisation is to “be a strong and united voice for the two million-plus property investors in Australia who currently don’t have a voice”.
They will also push for the regulation of property advice, something that has also been the goal of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia group, which Mr Kingsley also chairs.
But not everyone believes property investors in Australia are voiceless.
Anthony Ziebell, a long-time renters’ advocate and founder of name-and-shame website Don’t Rent Me, slammed the creation of PICA as “humorous” and “not needed”.
“I don’t think they are in a position of having [policies] against their will … it is slanted the other way,” Mr Ziebell said.
“There’s already so much representation for the real estate industry, so it is surprising they think it’s necessary … most people can see there is a stark difference between those who have the power and those who don’t.”
But Mr Ziebell said it would be beneficial for property investors to have a “consistent voice” in the debate.
Lobby group for first-time buyers, First Home Buyers Australia, co-founder Taj Singh also was critical, saying it would be “interesting to see what they actually push for because they have never had it better”.
He said landlords had more power than tenants in every state and existing government assistance measures for investors far outweighed those available for first-home buyers due to “generous tax concessions”.
“I am really surprised that this body is being created, as the government continues to protect investors over first-home buyers,” he said.
However, Real Estate Institute of NSW (REINSW) chief executive Tim McKibbin said it was “inevitable” that property investors would come together to lobby the government.
“Residential property investors … shoulder a great deal more burden than other forms of investors and a good share portfolio doesn’t put a roof over someone’s head,” Mr McKibbin said.
“We need more investment and yet we are seeing it becoming a political football.”
Mr McKibbin said there was a list of concerns that investors should be focusing on – including negative gearing restrictions, which real estate institutes across the country have argued against – and welcomed any group that would “lend its voice” to these concerns.