House debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024


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

12:22 pm

Photo of Phillip ThompsonPhillip Thompson (Herbert, Liberal National Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

Buying a home has been labelled the Australian dream for a reason. You work hard and you save and getting the keys to your own slice of Australia is truly one of life's greatest accomplishments. You may go it alone. You may achieve this with your partner or a business partner. But now the Albanese Labor government have decided they want a slice of the pie as well. The Help to Buy Bill 2023 is a shared-equity scheme that will see the Albanese Labor government own up to 40 per cent of your home, your safe haven, your sanctuary. It will not be yours wholly and solely.

As awful as this bill is, the government has already failed on its delivery. This was a key election policy that had a nominated start date of 1 January 2023. Twelve months on, we are only now debating it in this place. What on earth has the housing minister been doing? What on earth has this government been doing? Eighteen months late, we get this pathetic bill. In the midst of Labor's housing crisis, you would think that they would be pushing their election policy to be delivered on time. Right now, we have housing approvals and builds at record lows, and homebuyers are at their lowest level since the Gillard government. We've got rents skyrocketing, vacancy rates at record lows and now record migration. Regardless of how ineffective we on this side are proving this bill to be, it is too little, too late. People don't want to co-own a home with the government. This is a big-government strategy. If the failed time line isn't enough, then the contents of the bill should prove that Labor have no understanding of the wants and needs of everyday Australians when it comes to housing.

Let's look at what this scheme is doing across the economy. This small niche program will only be open to 10,000 households each financial year and will cost the Commonwealth—the taxpayer—$5.5 billion. An article in the Australian stated 'Labor needs guardrails on spending'. With policies like this, that could not be truer.

The ongoing issues that present themselves in this bill are of great concern. Homeowners are set to be tied to this Albanese Labor government for the lifetime of their homeownership. Who will be responsible for repairs and maintenance? You will be. Who will be responsible for making any improvements to the home? You will be. If the government own 40 per cent of your home, shouldn't they pick up 40 per cent of the bill? But you can bet your bottom dollar that, when the house is sold, the government will be there to collect their portion of the sale. Does that include its appreciation value? The Prime Minister's sitting at your kitchen table because he owns 40 per cent of your home. This is a big-government approach—government well and truly in your life and not out of it. For the Prime Minister to own 40 per cent of your home just goes to show how out of touch he is with normal Australians. The fine print of this scheme perfectly describes this government: all care, no responsibility.

But the most concerning part of this legislation is an age-old Labor tactic. It's what it doesn't say. As always, this government's legislation leaves more questions than answers. What are the eligibility criteria? What are the owner's reporting obligations? Are there price caps? How many places will be available in each state and territory? How many will be available in Townsville? This is not the first time I've been in this place asking question after question of a government who have put forward an ill-thought-out piece of legislation with holes that we on this side need to patch up for them.

I'll use an example the shadow minister used. We were told during the election that there would be no income caps for eligibility and that, in the end, it would mirror some of the income caps in other legislative schemes. Let's assume that this scheme will apply to people who earn up to $90,000 a year, for example, or couples who earn up to $120,000. A question the government can't or won't answer is: what happens if you've got two people and they earn $120,000 a year—$60,000 each—and they enter into the shared-equity product with the government, and one or both of them get a pay rise? All of a sudden they are over the $120,000 cap of the eligibility criteria. Will the government, the 40 per cent owners, sell the home out from under them? What happens if you fall behind in your mortgage repayments? These are legitimate, reasonable questions. You'd think the minister would have answers to them, but you'd be wrong.

We on this side of this House are all about opportunity and reward for effort. We understand what it means to Australians to own their own home and what comes with it—independence, security, self-pride. We want to give all Australians the opportunity, and we have a strong track record in backing this up. We implemented the Home Guarantee Scheme, which supported almost 60,000 first home buyers and single-parent families into homeownership. Australians were able to get into the housing market with a deposit as little as five per cent. This saw record rates of women, essential workers and single mums jump at the chance to become homeowners. The scheme was oversubscribed and should be used as a case study when implementing new housing policies.

We set up the HomeBuilder applications which protected the residential construction industry and generated more than $120 billion of economic activity. More than 137,000 Australian families applied, and the scheme delivered a secure pipeline of work that kept thousands of tradies and small businesses in work. This was a record-breaking scheme and contributed to our robust economic activity during one of the world's latest challenges.

A landmark coalition achievement was the creation of the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, now known as Housing Australia. Since its creation it has delivered $2.9 billion in low-cost loans to community housing providers and supports 15,000 social and affordable dwellings. We know that homeownership is the Australian dream, and we have made a possible for thousands of Australians. The coalition's housing policies have always been successful and have always been in line with the wants and needs of everyday Australians.

During our last three years in government, our housing policies aided more than 300,000 Australians in purchasing homes—21,000 social and affordable homes, with first home buyers increasing by 80,000, reaching their highest levels in nearly 15 years. They were successful because we listened to what the nation wanted. We set up the opportunities, delivered them and then backed away to let individuals and families do the rest—a small government approach. The same cannot be said about the Albanese Labor government, who, 20 months after they committed to the unwanted Help to Buy Bill are still yet to pass it. This is clearly another big government approach. The Albanese Labor government continues to encroach on the lives of everyday Australians, and this bill is no different. They want to tell you what car you buy, and now they want to tell you what state they want your family home.

It's already abundantly clear that Australians do not want this. We know this because we've seen the failures of other state Labor governments' attempt to implement shared-equity schemes. There are places remaining in the schemes in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It just goes to show that the Labor Party are not the party for the people. They do not understand the wants and needs of everyday Australians. If they did, they would not be implementing yet another shared-equity scheme, which has already been proven unwanted across the nation.

Whether you own a home or are in the process of saving up or it's still a distant dream, I want you to think about how you'd feel when the keys of the front door, your slice of Australia, are handed to you. If you're like me, you'll be flooded with a sense of pride, achievement, accomplishment. You'll have feelings of freedom, independence, safety and security. You'll throw your head back, smile and say, 'I did this; this is mine.' Think about how you'd feel knowing that the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, owns 40 per cent of it.

Australia is not a dictatorship. We're a democratic society, and we have been chosen to make the best decisions possible in behalf of our communities. We know that Australians don't want this. This bill should be scrapped, and the Albanese Labor government needs to set up policies that get out of your way, not in your way. People don't want more politicians in their lives. People don't want a government owning 40 per cent of their home. People want the freedom to live the life that they choose, to buy the car that they choose, to not feel the hand of government on their shoulder as they purchase a home, worried about what happens if they get a salary increase, a promotion; what happens if they sell; what happens if there is depreciation; what happens to their future.

These are questions that the minister should be able to answer. I know from well before my time in politics that I didn't want government in my house. I didn't want government's hand controlling what I do. I wanted small government. Make decisions, national decisions, big decisions on behalf of the Australian people. Don't tell me what I can and can't buy. Don't tell me that the government needs a percentage stake in my house. The Prime Minister doesn't sit at my kitchen table. I don't want him to sit there, and neither does the majority of people around this country.


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