Peter Mares: Housing, education and healthcare are the foundational components of a decent life 

Housing, education and healthcare are the three critical foundations to a decent life, said Peter Mares at a Conversation Series event held by the Property Council’s Western Australian division.

Peter Mares is the author of ‘No Place Like Home: Repairing Australia’s Housing Crisis’ where he explores the intricacies of Australian national housing policy. He draws on research, data and interviews to outline a clear picture of Australia’s housing challenges and shared his thoughts to an intimate audience on the key findings and recommendations in his book.

“We have a political and social consensus in Australia that universal education and universal healthcare are essential goods that the State must step in to help to provide,” Mr Mares said.

“We agree that the State has a responsibility to ensure that education and healthcare are available at an acceptable standard to all citizens regardless of income, but we don’t draw the link to housing. We don’t recognise that we need to see housing in similar way.

“Secure, affordable housing in good repair is a foundational component of a decent life. If people are not adequately housed then other essentials like education and health cannot be assured either.

“Australia’s housing problem is generally discussed as a problem of housing affordability but the real crisis in housing is the lack of affordable rental housing. The lack of decent, affordable rental accommodation undermines or perhaps overburdens other aspects of our social system like universal access to education and healthcare.

“There are two things that are obvious. One, private enterprise has been unable to overtake the housing shortage, and two, if people are so poor that can’t give private enterprise the finance inducement necessary to build then the government must come to the financial aid to the people,

“This is not a criticism of business and the private sector, but a recognition of reality. The property industry provides the bulk of Australia’s housing and will continue to do so. But there is no profit to be made in developing housing for people on the lowest incomes.

“Subsidised housing needs a subsidy. We need large scale, public investment into social and affordable housing,” said Mr Mares.

For more information on Peter Mares and his book you can visit his website