It’s a risk to change negative gearing

It’s not that long ago that Novocastrians were despairing at the state of our city centre. Hunter Street had become one long eyesore. Shops were boarded up, derelict buildings stood crumbling, the mall was empty and jobs growth had flat lined.

At the start of 2016, it’s a completely different story. Look down Hunter Street today and you’ll see cranes in the sky from Newcastle West to Newcastle Beach. Cranes in the sky means jobs on the ground. Jobs on the ground mean demand for new services. Demand for services means a pathway to growth.

Since 2013, $1.1 billion has poured into city building projects and an investment pipeline worth that much again is on the way.

In that time, Newcastle witnessed an unprecedented 2000 apartments being constructed, approved or submitted for development. All this occurred while the Hunter’s economy has been adjusting to the end of the mining infrastructure boom.

In other parts of Australia, property investors account for around one quarter of these commencements. In Newcastle, the number is twice the national average, giving them an even more critical role in underpinning the regional economy and jobs growth.

Owning an investment property is the working person's means of building prosperity. Two thirds of all people who negatively gear are middle income earners with incomes of $80,000 or less. This includes 53,800 teachers, 42,500 tradies, 35,900 nurses and 10,400 emergency services workers.

These are the people who are helping to revitalise Newcastle by funding new construction activity. It is why proposals to radically change negative gearing are a risk to Hunter households and the economy.

It took Newcastle along time to find her mojo. It doesn't make sense to take it back now and it's certainly not worth the economic risk.

First published in the Newcastle Herald, 22 February 2016.