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The propertied federal political class

By Philip Soos, Paul Egan and Lindsay David - posted Wednesday, 6 August 2014

"With more and more Australians finding it difficult to break into home ownership, adopting the Canadian scheme would make a difference to thousands of Australians each year," Senator Xenaphon said;

"As HomeStart Finance said this week, there's something strange about being able to access your super fund if you are about to default on your housing loan, but you can't access it to put a deposit on a home in the first place," he said.

Australia is in the midst of a chronic housing affordability crisis. Housing price inflation has outstripped both rents and household incomes for over a decade, leading to a residential property market considered unaffordable both historically and internationally. Yet, instead of helping to resolve the crisis, Australia's political class is apparently determined to maintain world-beating prices with poorly but purposefully designed policies to maximise prices.


The public should ask "Are the property holdings of our federal politicians negatively influencing policy and causing them to ignore evidence?" The parliamentary register of members' interests may help to answer this question, allowing for a summary report of real estate holdings for each Australian federal politician (which may be jointly owned with their spouse).

It is evident that politicians are heavily invested in the property game, with the 226 members in both houses of parliament with an ownership stake in a total of 563 properties – an average of 2.5 properties per member, conservatively estimated at around $300 million (563 multiplied by the median dwelling price of $530,000 as of July 2014).

The real total is probably higher considering well-off politicians are likely to purchase real estate in prime suburban and coastal areas above the median (and not all property holdings are residential such as farmland and commercial properties). Property investment is popular across the political spectrum and is a common thread binding the normally divided and bickering politicians together.

Australia's federal political class own an enormous property portfolio, with only 13 of the 226 members (6 per cent) not holding any real estate. In the Senate, 76 members own a total of 202 properties – 2.7 properties per Senator – estimated to be worth around $107 million.

Further, 91 per cent of all Senators own real estate (57 per cent investment/commercial property/vacant land, 41 per cent owner-occupied and 2 per cent recreational), 75 per cent have a mortgage, and the top ten control a colossal 95 properties.


Senator Xenophon maintains an impressive portfolio of eight investment properties, along with Senator Barry O'Sullivan from the National Party who owns an incredible fifty properties (see Table 2). The high concentration of landed gentry in the Senate acts as a vested interest to pass policies which inflates housing (land) prices.

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This article was first published on Australia Boom to Bust.

Click Here to purchase a copy of the book Australia: Boom to Bust from your preferred book retailer.

Click Here for a copy of Bubble Economics by Philip Soos and Paul Egan.

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About the Authors

Philip Soos is co-founder of LF Economics, co-author of Bubble Economics and a PhD candidate.

Paul D Egan was previously employed as a supervisor and policy officer at the state government level.

Lindsay David is a co-founder of clean technology company GreenRigCo and a former strategy and business development consultant. Lindsay holds an MBA from IMD Business School.

Other articles by these Authors

All articles by Philip Soos
All articles by Paul Egan
All articles by Lindsay David

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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