Conflict of Interest and property ownership: the case of Federal MPs

One of the time-honoured principles of democracy is that members of committees do not vote on matters in which they have a specific interest, normally a financial interest. It is usual for them to simply excuse themselves from the meeting and take no part in the discussions and certainly no part in the voting. This is so that it cannot be said they voted to protect their own interests and not the interests of their constituents.

This makes the question of negative gearing and housing affordability a difficult one for MPs and the Coalition in particular.

This group of  Federal Liberal MPs own total of 104 rental properties between them. The gentleman in the top left-hand corner of the picture, Nationals senator Barry O’Sullivan owns 33 properties, the man next to him Nationals MP David Gillespie owns 18.

The other MPs in the photo are Karen Andrews, Nola Marino, Ian Goodenough, Dan Tehan, the PM, Dutton and Tony Pasin.  Opposition MPs declared far more modest property ownership: Agriculture Spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, owns five.  Bill Shorten has none

Naturally, these MPs will be convinced of the benefits of negative gearing and property investment and will vote for its continuation. They are also voting to protect their own financial interests as they do.

Perhaps it is time that only MPs with no investments in residential property were able to vote on issues of housing affordability. It might produce some interesting results.

In fairness to this group of MPs, they have at least declared their financial interests.

Fairfax media reports:  That many MPs on both sides of Parliament disclose their property holdings in trusts and that almost half of Coalition MPs or their immediate family members have an interest in a trust, and another 13 government MPs have self-managed superannuation funds or other investment vehicles which are not transparent.

Confidence in our democratic system will continue to erode while there is a public perception that vested interests control voting on One of the most important social and economic issue facing many young Australians.  Within the Australian community 10% of Australians own rental properties properties, within the Australian Federal Parliament rate is 50%.

That’s right. Half our MPs have investment properties many of which are likely to be, or have been, negatively geared.

The PM is running hard on Australian values. The realities of property ownership within his government do not sit well with the Australian values of a fair go.



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