Property

Albanese voters extend their property privilege, municipal splits

More bureaucracy, more advisers and fewer economies of scale would raise rates from $87 to $471 a year, in perpetuity, according to estimates by Morrison Low, a small management consulting firm. In addition, a still confidential report from E&Y identified serious problems for the board from a rift, according to a person who read it.

“The major benefits are not easily quantifiable,” Morrison Low said. “It’s ultimately the community’s perspective on how balanced they are that matters.”

Niche tips

The main advantage for the inhabitants of small municipalities is that the administrations are more likely to come under pressure to oppose new housing and businesses. Generally fallacious arguments that real estate developments will harm the character of suburbs are more effective in monocultures.

A campaign in Mosman against a modest Woolworths outlet on a busy road three years ago was a classic example. Mosman Council has some of Sydney’s lowest housing targets and is still unlikely to meet them.

To overcome council opposition to growth, the state government established the Greater Cities Commission, which has set and will set targets in the Greater Sydney area. Without these new homes, upward pressure on prices will persist, deepening economic inequality in Sydney and reinforcing the importance of inherited wealth.

A more effective approach would be three or four mega-councils, which could distribute new housing fairly across the city and overcome unreasonable local opposition. With national elections scheduled for March, such a sensible policy has no short-term prospects.

Balmain millionaires

The western interior, despite its leftist politics, has an interest in extending the privilege of property. In Balmain, where support for local Labor candidate Anthony Albanese was around 70% in this year’s election, the average two-bedroom home has sold for $1.96 million in the past 12 months, according to the domain’s website.

Anthony Albanese at Balmain’s Unity Hall Hotel in 2019. Edwina Pickles

The Inner West council is not among the most recalcitrant, but it is likely to miss its 2026 target of 5,000 new homes by 1640, according to Urban Taskforce, a developer lobby group.

There is some good news. Inner West council Labor councilors say privately they suspect some residents will cool off on the old councils when they see the bill. The council’s phone and online canvassing revealed that most are happy with his work and want him to focus on parks, transit and its efficient management.

“A wider council seems to get things done and not get into nonsense [over] individual likes and dislikes,” said one resident.

Behind the Brexit-like campaign is a cross-party struggle that mirrors the contests taking place in Australia’s inner cities.

Labor holds eight of Inner West’s 15 council seats; the Greens five. The Greens support the Breakout campaign, which appears to be organized by Socialist Alliance, a far-left group.

The Greens took control of the council for three months in 2021. The party’s best chance of regaining power is likely to be in smaller councils, where it can concentrate its resources.

The council agreed to wait a month before taking the next step, which would be to submit the costs to local government minister Wendy Tuckerman, who has the final say.

“So it’s out of our hands,” said a labor adviser. “It’s unpredictable what she might do.”

Given that Labor Mayor Darcy Byrne has asked the Liberal Tuckerman to cover the roughly $200 million, it would appear his decision is not this unpredictable.