Steve Price has clashed with a Greens MP over their party’s idea of a rent freeze, calling the proposal “mad”.
Greens MP Max Chandler-Mather spoke with the The Project on Thursday night to discuss the Greens’ proposal, which was met with a frosty reception.
Earlier this week, The Greens urged the government to impose a nationwide rent freeze for two years, citing the sharp increases in rent that have outstripped wage rises in recent months.
The minor party has also called for future rent increases, beyond the proposed freeze period, to be capped at 2 per cent every two years.
When Mr Chandler-Mather explained the proposal to the panel, the questions came flooding in.
“Max, this does sound vaguely like socialism, possibly even communism. How would it work in practice?” host Hamish Macdonald asked.
“I wouldn’t call it socialism or communism. I’d call it what is being done around the world, and (what has) worked. Victoria froze rents for six months during the pandemic, and what we are saying now is we are in a worse housing crisis even than in the pandemic, and we need an urgent national response,” Mr Chandler-Mather replied.
“What we’re proposing today is a two-year national rent freeze, because rents are out of control. They’ve increased seven times faster than wages since the pandemic began.”
“It is not a crazy proposal … I think it is a moderate proposal for what is a national crisis,” he said.
As he went on to cite other global examples of a similar scheme working to protect renters, Steve Price jumped in.
“Max, you call it moderate. I call it mad,” he said.
“What do you say to landlords who, over the next two years or so, are going to have an increase to their mortgage repayments, council rates are going up, repairs on rental properties are going up, it’s hard to get tradesmen – they are just expected to wear this increase in cost with no rent going up.”
“They’re going to bail on the market, they’re going to sell their properties, and you’re going to collapse the real estate market. It’s mad, mate!”
“Well I don’t think the real estate market collapsed in Victoria when they froze rents for six months,” Mr Chandler-Mather said.
“There was a six-month rent freeze in Victoria, but similarly in British Colombia or in New York or Scotland-” said the Greens MP.
Price interrupted saying, “We’re not in British Columbia, New York or Scotland, we’re in Australia.”
“We’ve got a rental system that works. There are a lot of great landlords. There are even landlords who, during Covid, made the rent cheaper for people because they wanted to look after good tenants. You’re trying to blow up a system that actually works.”
“I think you just need to talk to the 2.7 million renters who are in severe rental stress at the moment and ask them if the housing market is working,” countered Mr Chandler-Mather.
The pair continued their feisty back and forth before the interview drew to a close, where Macdonald thanked the MP for being “a good sport”.
Image credits: The Project
This article first appeared on OverSixty.