21st April 2017
There’s no housing affordability crisis in the ranks of Federal Parliament’s members and senators.
- The average property-owning parliamentarian has 2.4 titles to their name
- There are more primary residences than politicians
- Only 10 out of the 226 elected officials do not own property
The politicians charged with tackling the thorny issue of spiralling house prices are among the nation’s most aggressive property investors, an analysis by the ABC has revealed.
The 226 individuals own 525 properties between them and about half of them own investment properties.
That means many of our politicians have a very personal interest in any changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount.
You can search your local member’s property interests here.
1. There’s hardly a politician without property
Ninety-six per cent of parliamentarians own a property. Only 10 out of our 224 elected officials aren’t in the game.
Compare that to the rest of Australia, where home ownership is expected to dip below 50 per cent sometime this year.
2. They’re aggressive investors
Almost half of our parliamentarians have an investment property.
Among the general population, the rate of investment property ownership is about 10 per cent, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.
3. There are a few bona fide tycoons
Nationals senator Barry O’Sullivan tops the chart with 33 properties, mostly commercial or industrial.
Fellow National David Gillespie has 18 to his name.
And Karen Andrews takes third spot with 10 properties.
4. Why own one when you can own 2.4?
The average property-owning parliamentarian has 2.4 titles to their name.
While we’re splitting houses in half, the comparison is that the average Australian only owns half a house.
5. The Coalition has the biggest portfolios
There are 105 government MPs and senators and they own 289 properties between them.
About half of these properties, 139, are investments.
The average Coalition politician owns 2.7 properties.
There are 193 properties held by the 95 Labor MPs and senators.
The minority, 72, are investment properties.
The average Labor politician owns two properties.
6. There are more homes than politicians
There are 265 homes listed as residential. If you do the sum like us, you’ll realise that’s more primary residences than politicians.
Many have holiday homes and some do maintain a Canberra home too.
But they also have a lot of investment properties; we found 228 all up.
The average number of properties owned by investing politicians is 2.1.
7. The Razor Gang all own property
This is the group that slice and dice the budget and will ultimately decide on the housing affordability policies.
It’s comprised of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who owns two residential and three investment properties; Treasurer Scott Morrison, who owns a home at Dolans Bay; and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who with his wife Lucy owns several properties, including a home at Point Piper and an apartment in Canberra.
8. Is it because they’re older, whiter and richer?
While our Parliament in theory represents Australia in all its diversity, our political class is quite homogenous.
Firstly, they’re older. There’s only one parliamentarian under 30 — Senator James Paterson.
Home ownership rates are far higher among the older generations, peaking at 81 per cent for those over 65, according to the most recent Census data available.
The older you are, the more likely you are to have investment property too, according to the Reserve Bank of Australia.
They’re also richer. The starting salary in both houses is $199,040 per annum, with additional allowances and supplements depending on their additional duties.
That’s more than double the average full-time salary in Australia, which is about $82,000 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Our parliamentarians are far more likely to be born in Australia and not of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent than the population at large.
Home ownership rates among Indigenous Australians are much lower than the national average, according to the ABS.
Young migrants are also far less likely to own property, according to an analysis of ABS data.
You also need to know this
There are a few caveats on our analysis.
The data is from the Parliament’s registers of interests.
We’ve included agricultural, commercial, industrial and residential properties. We’ve also included properties jointly owned with spouses or family members and we’ve included properties with and without mortgages.
We’ve also included properties owned by trusts or companies, where the parliamentarian is a beneficiary and they have declared their interest. Quite a few politicians have declared property investment companies or trusts but not the properties owned, so the real number of properties owned could be higher.
We haven’t included the properties wholly owned by politicians’ spouses, even though they are sometimes declared.
The two newest senators, One Nation’s Peter Georgiou and Family First’s Lucy Gichuhi, have not yet filled out their declarations and so are not included in this analysis.