While federal Labor deserves credit for putting negative gearing on the table as an election issue, by raising a relatively minor side matter (and proposing piecemeal changes that won’t be phased in until 2017), it has allowed the elephant to remain well and truly in the room. Negative gearing perversely encourages people to make bad investments, but in terms of extreme unfairness, it pales in comparison to the capital gains tax exemption for principal residences.

A report by the Australia Institute released earlier this year suggested that the CGT exemption cost $46 billion per year -- that’s more than anything the government spends on anything other than Medicare, defence and education. (The cost to the budget of negative gearing is believed to be around $12 billion annually.)