House debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024


Help to Buy Bill 2023, Help to Buy (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2023; Second Reading

11:22 am

Photo of Dan TehanDan Tehan (Wannon, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) Share this | Hansard source

Anyway, it is clear from this threadbare legislation that the government has failed to do the hard work you need to do when you're governing. Governing is not just some sort of ride at Luna Park. You actually have to do the work.

The following are the types of questions that we need answers for. What is the scheme's eligibility criteria? Maybe the member for Paterson could answer that for us, because we can't get it out of the minister—and many people would say that the member for Paterson should be on the front bench because she'd do a much better job than half the ministers who've been put before us by the Prime Minister. Maybe she could tell us what the scheme's eligibility criteria is. What happens if you make improvements to your home? Will you have to send the government an invoice for repairs and maintenance, such as a leaky roof? That's a very good question that we can't get an answer to. What happens if you earned a cent above $90,000 for an individual or $120,000 for a couple? Will the government force the sale of your home? These are all legitimate questions that, when you go into a joint mortgage with the government, need to be answered, and the minister cannot answer them. Will the ATO be auditing incomes to ensure people don't own a cent over the threshold? So, if, all of a sudden, you get a pay rise, is that the end of your Help to Buy scheme? What does that mean to your shared equity? We don't have an answer. What happens if housing prices fall and you are behind on your mortgage payments? Will the government force you to sell your house for less than you paid for it? Once again, maybe the member for Paterson will be able to help us with an answer to that question. These are pretty straightforward and simple questions. What are the property price caps? We still don't know what the property price caps are.

I might be mistaken here, but my understanding is that this policy was announced before the last election and that it was meant to be rolled out, I think, six months after, and we haven't seen that happen. Here we are now, nearly but not quite hitting the two-year mark, and we still do not have an answer for these simple questions. What are the property price caps? How many of the 40,000 places will be available in each state and territory? You know you've got to do this with the states and territories, but do you have any idea how many will go to Victoria, how many to New South Wales or how many to Queensland? We don't know. The Australian people don't know. Maybe the government doesn't know or maybe it does. Who knows? I think there are so many questions that it beggars belief, to be honest. And then what lenders are participating in the scheme? We don't know that. We're nearly two years in. This was a policy announced before the last election, and we have no idea about these answers.

One of the things we do know is that this scheme will cost the Commonwealth $5.5 billion. I must say, when we need housing addressed in this nation right now, when we need the rental crisis addressed right now, the government is spending $5.5 billion, and yet we've got nothing to show for it. At this stage, and maybe the member for Paterson can help again, has one house been built by this scheme since the government came in? Has one apartment been built by the scheme since the government came in? Have we had one?

So I'll just explain this again: 1.6 million people are coming into the country over four years. For those in the gallery listening, that's the size of the city of Adelaide. The government introduced a scheme before the last election to help with housing, and yet here we are, nearly two years into this government, and how many houses have been built? Zero. At least they haven't gone backwards. At least they haven't been—


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