Peter Dutton’s tough stance on migration and borders and its effect on property were tested in May this year when he delivered a key-note speech to Australia’s property industry leaders in Canberra about how big Australia should be.
His speech was preceded by the induction of immigrant Frank Charnock into the Property Council of Australia’s Hall of Fame for his efforts in opening up this country’s real estate to foreign investors.
Seated at a table not far from both of them was Pauline Hanson and throughout the room were developers such as the construction union’s Cbus Property, many for who would no doubt love to see a bigger Australia to keep their apartments selling in a sliding market.
Dutton in his speech acknowledged immigrants such as Frank Charnock.
“The property sector has been incredibly important to migration in this country. Frank’s own story – a migrant who came to Australia in 1961 applied his skill and expertise to a fledgling company is now a company that has grown to more than 3000 employees.”
“The work that was undertaken by a migrants into our country and the jobs that were created is one example of the way in which many migrants have been a significant part of the property sector. Many names come to mind – the Lowys the Triguboffs and many others whether on the big or small scale. That has been the embrace of many migrants over a long period of time and is to this very day.
At the end of the night Mr Charnock went up to Dutton and shook his hand. They talked about how times had changed. I asked Charnock what he thought about Dutton’s views on immigration and he said they were good.
“I was very impressed with his speech. A politician’s job is to deal with the pressures of the job,” Charnock told me.
In the speech Dutton also emphasised the importance of a safe Australia – how tens of millions people pass through our customs and shopping centres every year and how our country’s reputation for being a safe place to live is such a crucial part of our international sell – especially when it comes to the $20 billion international student industry.
He received a strong applause and the peak lobbying body for property in Australia – the Property Council of Australia’s chief executive Ken Morrison also gave him a wrap.
“The important work you do to keep Australia open to the world but also to protect Australia from the elements that could be a security risk we thank you.”
It is easy for people to get carried away about the impact Dutton’s tough stance on deportations and migration numbers would have on the property sector, but its important to remember what the bigger fears are from within the sector.
Dutton knows them.
And like any politician does, he made sure they did not get left out in front of a room packed with property types.
“I want to make sure we can protect the sector and that we don’t get major shocks such as the abolition of negative gearing.”
Labor government’s removal of capital gains tax benefits and negative gearing seems to be a much more serious concern than tougher border protection from a Queensland cop, and a room full of Australia’s property industry leaders proves that.