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The Labor of Living: Fear of Losing Homes Drove ALP Win

by Marquette Turner

in News & Views, Real Estate Radar

VOTERS in electorates recording the highest rates of home repossessions voted more strongly for Labor than areas not facing the same home-loan pressures, according to figures on the influence mortgage stress had on the federal election result.

The data offers the first firm evidence that mortgage stress and six interest rate rises were a key influence in seats covering Sydney’s west, south-west, the Hunter and the Central Coast.

In a Fairfax analysis of lower house seats in NSW and the ACT, high home-repossession rates were a better indicator of Labor receiving a stronger vote than either high unemployment rates or lower average incomes.

The top 10 home repossession electorates were identified and these 10 electorates recorded an average swing to the ALP of 6.7 per cent, compared with an average NSW swing of 5.4 per cent, using the ABC’s analysis of election results.

The swing to Labor in the 10 seats with the highest unemployment rate was 6.2 per cent and the swing to Labor in the 10 seats with the lowest income was below the state average at 5 per cent.

An associate professor of economics at the University of Western Sydney, Steve Keen, said household debt had become a pressing issue since the 2004 election, with total debts as a proportion of disposable household income increasing from 128 per cent to 160 per cent.

Over the same period the percentage of household income required to service debts had increased from 11 per cent to 16 per cent, meaning rising debt levels and interest rates had created a “double whammy”.

People with mortgage repayments of between $1400 and $1600 a month, just above the average repayment, stood out as one group that moved solidly to Labor.

Interestingly, the ABC’s election analyst, Antony Green, noted the seats identified by Fitch did not appear to select the seats with the lowest incomes, but rather those facing the highest cost-of-living expenses.

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