House debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024


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

1:04 pm

Photo of Terry YoungTerry Young (Longman, Liberal National Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise with great pleasure to speak on the Help to Buy Bill 2023. Homeownership has been the great Australian dream for a long time. It was Menzies, that great Liberal prime minister, who instilled that dream in people. Even today, 85 per cent of people who rent tell us that they want to own their own home, and for a lot of reasons they can't. The sad part about it is that so many of them believe that they'll never achieve that. I think that's a tragedy, when I hear people say that. It crushes dreams. The problem is that markets keep moving and, because of the cost-of-living crisis, they can't save a deposit.

I can remember when I bought my first home, at 21. We had 18 per cent interest rates back then—you're probably old enough to remember that, Deputy Speaker Buchholz—but we were able to do that on one income with three kids, which is nearly unheard today. Again, that's another reason I feel very sad for the current generation. They face far greater challenges. My first home cost less than two years of my annual salary at the time. That would be akin to buying a home today for about $180,000, and that just doesn't happen. The current generation are doing it tough when it comes to homeownership. I'm happy that the government is trying to find ways to encourage homeownership. As the former Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday, one thing we can't argue about is that both sides of the House want to help Australians in their own way. Where we don't agree is on the methodology. This is one of those classic examples.

There's another thing I'm not terribly happy about: this is something those opposite talked about at the election, and it took them 20 months to do something about it. In my electorate, I've never seen the homelessness situation worse. I've also talked to many people in construction, and they are saying that the phones stopped ringing last year. There are no contracts being signed. Many of the homes that are being built now are actually a hangover from the coalition government's time in government, when we had great initiatives to ensure people got into their own home. The focus has been on other issues, like the divisive Voice referendum and those sorts of things, but, at the end of the day, people need a roof over their head. It seems to me that should be the government's priority at all times.

The thing that I have against this particular legislation is that it's getting the government involved in people's lives. I know that socialists and the communists agree that this is what should happen—that the government should be in control of people's lives as much as possible. As a conservative and someone from the coalition side, I believe in governments making sure that we have supports, but people should always make their own decisions and the government should be involved in people's lives as little as possible. Partnership in business is all about partner selection. Having had five business partners in my time in small business, I can say that partners are a great thing; I really believe in them. But the challenging thing with partnerships—I know people who haven't had great partnerships in business—is selecting the right partner. In partnerships, you have to have people that are reasonable, and they have to share all the cost and the profits in a way that is proportionate to their investment. I would be very hesitant to enter into any sort of partnership with any level of government.

The other problem with this bill is that it's too complicated. It also relies on state and territory cooperation, which is a recipe for disaster. There are so many unanswered questions on this bill. What I want to know is what happens if someone wants to buy out the government's share in their home, either a piece at a time or in whole? How do you set that value? When you have a business partnership, you have a shareholders agreement that spells this out very clearly. What if there's a dispute over the valuation? What if the government says, 'According to our valuers, the property is worth $500,000,' and the other partner says, 'No, I think it's worth $600,000, or $400,000'? Whatever it is, how do we settle that? Which lenders have signed up for this scheme? What's the point of offering equity if the banks aren't on board? We haven't heard any news at all on that. What happens with the expenses associated with the home along the way? In a business partnership, these costs are shared proportionately by all the partners. Imagine if I went into one of the businesses that I was in partnership with and I said to my business partner, 'You can pay all of the rent, wage, electricity and phone bills, but we're going to share the profit equally'? How long do you think we'd be in business together? I'd say, not long, because if I'm going to earn the rewards, proportionately, I need to pay for the expenses proportionately. It's called commonsense and fairness. But this is not the case.

What happens when the rate bills come? Do you send an invoice to the government and say, 'Give me 40 per cent of the rates.' Stamp duties? Land taxes? What about their share of the insurance bill? And then what happens if you improve the property? What happens if you put a pool in or a pergola? What if you add another room onto the house? You've paid the money—the home owner. The one in there who owns maybe 60 or 70 per cent pays the entire capital outlay, and yet when that reward is reaped at the end they'll only receive 60 or 70 per cent, whatever the proportion is, after outlaying 100 per cent. It is completely unfair. The government needs to make sure that they are contributing to these ongoing costs. It's as simple as that.

This just shows the lack of general business experience on the other side of the House. They have a few people who have been in business but the majority have not. I understand why they just cannot figure this stuff out. I get it's because they haven't lived it. This is the problem when you have governments that are mainly made up of people who are ex-bureaucrats, public servants, union officials or have worked in political offices. I don't have any problem with those vocations, but it means they are not set up and don't have the skill set to be able to make decisions that affect people who aren't involved in those industries. And that's not the average Australian. They are supposed to be a party that represents the average Australian and they simply don't.

Ten thousand places doesn't scratch the surface. In comparison, the past three years of coalition initiatives have helped 300,000 people to purchase a home. Let's talk about initiatives like us supporting 60,000 first home buyers and single parent families into home ownership through the Home Guarantee Scheme, the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, the New Home Guarantee and the Family Home Guarantee. Deposits of as little as two per cent allowed so many who wanted the dream of home ownership but they'd thought that dream was dead. Now they're living that reality of home ownership. And I note that 52 per cent of these recipients were women and 85 per cent of family guarantee recipients were used by single mums. As a dad who has two daughters that are single mums, this is welcome news. These coalition measures ensured that the construction industry was absolutely protected and jobs were assured, with more than 137,000 home builder applications generating $120 billion worth of economic activity.

The coalition saw that state governments were failing people with social and public housing. For example, in Queensland—our home state, Deputy Speaker—between 2015 and 2020 the Commonwealth government provided $1.7 billion for social and public housing. That's a lot of money. In that time we had a net increase of dwellings of 241. Just over $7 million per home. Seriously, I'm in the wrong game.

By contrast, the coalition brought out the scheme where we had low-cost loans to community organisations who provided community housing. That investment was $1.7 billion and that provided 15,000 dwellings. Let's compare $2.9 billion for 241 dwellings or $2.9 billion for 15,000 dwellings at an average of $194,000 per dwelling. That's a better use of taxpayer money. And let's remember, it's taxpayer money, not the government's money.

The coalition established the First Home Super Saver Scheme, which helped 27,600 homebuyers accelerate their deposit savings using their super. That's right: their super—not the industry super funds' super, not the government's super but their super. It's their money. Imaging letting people spend their own money on what they want! Isn't that a foreign concept? How strange! 'I'd like to buy a house for when I retire. Even though I've paid all this money in super, I still don't own a home. I couldn't get into the market because I could never get a deposit. So I'm going to go on the pension and become a burden.' Well, how about we help them get into a home so that they own it by the time they retire so they don't have to go on a pension? How about that? That's a bit of long-term thinking, and we can't get involved in that, can we, Member for Casey? Why would we bother doing that?

You've got to wonder why the federal government would put out a scheme that state governments have already got. They've already got them, and the take-up hasn't been completed. The states still have spots available in schemes that are almost identical to this. So the questions are: Why would you even do that? Why would you introduce a scheme like the schemes that the states already have no complete take-up in? The answer is: it's all about the headline. You've got to have the perception out there that you're going to fix things. But the devil is always in the detail, isn't it?


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