House debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024


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

11:52 am

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) Share this | Hansard source

I want to congratulate for their contributions the Manager of Opposition Business and shadow minister, together with the shadow minister for immigration, both of whom I've had the opportunity to listen to while I've been in the chamber.

There is so much wrong with this bill, the Help to Buy Bill 2023. I want to start with the last point. In my maiden speech I referred to an Italian phrase which I spend a lot of time thinking about, particularly in my public life. Loosely translated, it is 'between the saying and doing, there's the ocean between'. And so it is here in terms of this shared-equity proposal by those opposite. There is a long way between the saying and the doing.

What was the saying? The saying was in the lead-up to the last election. With much fanfare, faced with a growing cost-of-living crisis and particularly a housing crisis, the wannabe Prime Minister, the then Leader of the Opposition, indicated that his government—were they to be brought to government—would legislate this scheme and have it operational by 1 January 2023. That was the saying. But we're now well and truly into the doing, unless of course you don't think that much can be achieved in 14 months, which of course it can be. That's the best-case scenario. We're at 14 months right now.

Not that it was shared publicly with the Australian people at the time, but, as we have just heard and as is the case, in order to make this policy operational—I won't say 'effective'—there will need to be legislation mirroring it in each of the state jurisdictions. This proposed bill hasn't even left this place yet, so to think that it would be operational by the end of this calendar year is optimistic. I think it's a more likely scenario, and perhaps the reason to guillotine it, that those opposite have indicated: 'We need to get it legislated so that we can do one of two things. Either we can say, "Well, we've done our part," and blame the states'—which is something that occurs regularly—'or, alternatively, we can avoid any criticism associated with the scheme having not kicked off.'

The first thing is their rank delay in doing anything in this space so as to effectively hoodwink the people of Australia into voting for them but then not being able to carry through. It's a theme that's becoming increasingly consistent for those opposite. But the next point is, quite frankly, we have a Minister for Housing who comes into this place and is fond of saying—presumably from information she's finally got from the conga line of round tables that she conducts—that the solution is supply. Then why would she provide a proposal which is all about being a demand-driven mechanism? This proposal, as ineffectual and niche as it is, is all about driving up demand. It has nothing to do with supply.

While I'm talking about how niche this proposal is—it's 10,000 homes, and that's if it's able to be legislated with all the conditions present—this is against a backdrop of, as we heard from the shadow minister for immigration, 1.5 million new arrivals on our doorstep. I don't live in Adelaide, but I've spent a lot of time in that city, of course, because I'm a South Australian. While I'm here and whilst we're talking about housing—obviously 10,000 homes are insignificant when we're talking about needing to house an additional 1.5 million people, and that's not to mention the crisis that we're facing right now in real terms—I want to pause for a minute and say that it's not just houses that you need to provide when you're seeking to grow your population by that number over such a short period of time. A population the size of Adelaide needs schools, roads and hospitals. Just like the way those opposite have been ham-fisted in this proposal, they're not working on the infrastructure and investment you need to support those other elements.

Why would you think about legislating a shared-equity scheme like this when shared-equity schemes exist all over the country, in almost every jurisdiction, and they're undersubscribed, in many cases, by 90 per cent? There's no shortage of opportunities for people who might want to participate in a shared-equity scheme to do so. But here's a newsflash for those opposite: they don't want to. The reason why they don't want to is that Australians, on average, want government out of their life and not in the kitchen. That's the reality. They want government working for them, not controlling them.

I think this is the greatest example I've seen for a while of the differences between the two major political parties. I think the most significant achievement of our founder, Robert Menzies, was taking private homeownership to a majority level here in this country. Sadly, we're now seeing the rates of private homeownership fall off the cliff. Why is private homeownership important? We need Australians to take an interest in this country. You can't have a property owned democracy if nobody owns property in the democracy. Homeownership also provides security for retirement. The cases I see around elderly Australians and stress invariably involve them not owning their own home. So if we can get a greater percentage of Australians owning a stake in Australia and, importantly, their own home then, yes, it will provide security for their retirement, but it's more than that. As a cultural conservative, I will say this to the last breath I have: a strong society is a product of strong families. Strong families need the support and security of a family home.

Now those opposite would have the government not only at the kitchen table but on the title deed as a second mortgage holder. We have heard from the Manager of Opposition Business about all the difficulties associated with that, and I will run through those in a minute. But the principle is this: we do not want the government having an interest in your home; we want you to own your own home. I can highlight the difference between our respective policy positions. The shadow minister is here. He did so much as minister, whether it was around HomeBuilder or other schemes, to assist 300,000 Australians to get into a home during our time in government. The 'home first, super second' policy that we took to the last election is one that we have recommitted to.


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