House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Private Members' Business

Home Guarantee Scheme

2:50 pm

Photo of Jenny WareJenny Ware (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the motion brought by the member for Cunningham relating to the Labor Party's supposedly broad and ambitious housing policy. I do thank the member for bringing this to the House's attention because, yet again, it is an opportunity for me and for those on my side to point out some of the failures of the government's housing policy.

First of all, this motion focuses on the Home Guarantee Scheme, which was of course started under the former coalition government. I do commend the honourable member and indeed the government for continuing this very successful program initiated by the former coalition government. But, otherwise, I use this opportunity to speak against this motion and again highlight the government's flawed housing policy which, it has said, will deliver 1.2 million homes over five years.

That was said by National Cabinet, the Minister for Housing and the Prime Minister late last year. But, a bare couple of weeks later, New South Wales Premier Chris Minns came out and said that he can't meet his government's target of 75,000 per year. For the government to build 1.2 million new homes over five years would need 240,000 homes to be built every single year for the next five years.

It is a great shame that the government cannot and will not deliver on this policy, because housing affordability in this country is a national crisis. The crisis has well and truly peaked under the Labor government. It is a national shame that millennials and generation Z have all but given up on the great Australian dream of homeownership. The high cost of housing is mostly due to a lack of supply, and this motion is silent on this pervasive problem. The Labor government is silent on how to solve supply.

Let us just look for a moment at what has happened under this government. The number of loans provided for the purchase or construction of new homes has fallen to the lowest level since the GFC in 2008. The number of first home buyers remains at the lowest level since the Gillard government. The ABS has highlighted that the September 2023 quarter was the weakest quarter of construction in more than a decade. The data also showed a significant 1.7 per cent drop in detached houses that commenced construction in the 12 months to September 2023, and lending for new homes remained at a 20-year low in September 2023. In addition, new house building approvals have dropped to a decade low. Further escalating the housing affordability crisis, we've now seen 12 interest rate rises since Labor's election, which have added an extra $25,000 to an average mortgage of $750,000.

This motion brought by the member for Cunningham also speaks about the Help to Buy program, but this is a small, niche program, open to only 10,000 households each year for four years. It's going to cost the Commonwealth $5.5 billion, and, as always, with Labor's policies and legislation, the devil is in the detail. Most of this detail has been omitted. It's said to be a shared-equity scheme where new buyers will share ownership of up to 40 per cent with the Commonwealth government. This means that the government will own almost half of these people's property. We don't think this is something that Australian's want. Shared-equity schemes in the UK have just folded because the government ultimately found that it was simply inflationary. The eligibility criteria has been set by the government as $90,000 income for a single person and $120,000 for a couple, but what happens if they receive a significant pay rise? Do they then have to opt out of the scheme? Do they then have to repay the money? What happens with repairs and maintenance? The government is silent on all of these details.

Federal Labor said that it would cap the scheme at $950,000 in metropolitan New South Wales. In my electorate of Hughes, you pretty well cannot buy a property for under $1 million, so there is nobody in my electorate that would be able to avail themselves of this scheme. Therefore, I say that the government still has it wrong on housing policy. The Help to Buy scheme is not going to help most Australians—1.2 million homes in five years is a pipe dream.


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