Journal article

Discourses around negative gearing of investment properties in Australia

Rental housing Housing Private rental Affordable housing Negative gearing Australia

A tax rule whereby losses on a rental property are deductible against personal taxable income (commonly known as ‘negative gearing’) is an almost uniquely Australian practice. This article explores how this practice is legitimised and justified by politicians despite coherent criticisms that the practice misdirects investment into unproductive asset speculation causing house price inflation and inequality. This article uses critical discourse analysis to examine how ‘negative gearing’ is criticised and legitimised. It is argued that the interests of the property-owning majority and electoral pragmatism determine government housing policy. There is a disjunct between the political imperative of the major parties to maintain high housing prices in order not to erode the wealth of the majority of voters (property owners) and the emerging problem of housing unaffordability. Despite mounting coherent critique coming from economists, and younger cohorts excluded from home ownership, the policy continues due to realpolitik considerations.

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