Jim Chalmers performed well last night – as a politician. He responded to questions by providing accounts of the particular efforts the ALP government is making, or has in the pipeline. He was up to speed on these.

Chalmers put much store in getting wages moving, but can the “decent salary” that he’s hoping for possibly serve these high mortgages (even if there are two wage earners in a home)? Can real wages increase if land prices continue their rampant escalation?

Mr Chalmers also put much store in the Housing Australia Future Fund (HAFF), already opposed in the Senate for good reason (rationally at least by the Greens). How can HAFF effectively accomodate people in need of housing urgently?

The Australian Financial Review reports that the housing slump will put up to 61,000 construction workers out of a job over the next three years. Surely, forewarned is forearmed, so a joint Federal-State housing development effort should be able to employ these people to construct homes to address ‘under-supply’. Is the Labor Party in the thrall of neoliberal economics to such extent that such direct government spending may no longer be employed to construct homes?

Stan Grant and questioners posed searching questions to the Treasurer on increasing poverty and dispossession that he didn’t answer satisfactorily. “Sue” had an SMS appearing on the bottom of the screen that People are entitled to a place to live, which laid bare the fundamental question around which Mr Chalmers so obviously skirted.

The Labor Party once had a policy to re-introduce the federal land tax in order to maintain cheap housing, but this was written out (not voted out as required) of the ALP platform in the 1960s by party secretary Cyril Wyndham. Wyndham apparently considered that, in a nation with an increasing amount of home ownership, this particular plank was too embarrassing. Silence from party members other than Clyde Cameron spoke volumes.

With the Treasurer obviously solicitous about the cost-of-living, wouldn’t it have been salutary for Stan Grant to tackle Jim Chalmers about the land component of house prices in mortgages and rent–now some 80%–and, having aboriginal history, Stan is well qualified to put that particular question. Did not first nations’ people consider that land is common property, and though it may be occupied, land may never be private property? (It’s quite interesting that this also accorded with the Biblical injunction around which Jews and Christians assiduously side-step today.)

Yes, it’s a confronting question, but the land-cost in housing was the obvious void in last night’s program.