Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Housing. Will the government develop a housing construction industry stimulus plan to keep Australia's almost one million bricklayers, carpenters, electricians and lots of other workers in the housing construction industry in a job?
I thank the member for his question. Obviously those businesses that are engaged in the housing industry—the minister's right, it's a big industry with over one million employees—have, importantly, been supported by the JobKeeper package, $130 billion. The Treasurer has outlined today just how important that has been for so many businesses. In addition, one of the first things we did was announce $1.3 billion to support apprentices—50 per cent of the wage for apprentices. A huge beneficiary of that program are businesses in the residential and other construction industries.
In addition to all of that, at the beginning of this year we put in place the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which has increased demand for new homes particularly. If there are customers for those homes there are building sites to work on for all of the people that the minister spoke about. So far under the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme we have had about 8,800 new homes, or people who are now beneficiaries of a guarantee who are able to go out and search for their first property with a deposit of as little as five per cent.
In addition to all of that, we set up the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, which has channelled $1.3 billion into social and affordable housing projects. One point three billion dollars has already flowed into social and affordable housing projects, which of course stimulates the industry.
What I would say to the shadow minister is that what the industry does not need, what it absolutely does not need, are Labor's housing taxes, which are still your policy. They are still Labor policy. All of the groups that I suspect the shadow minister is talking to campaign ferociously against that, because of how devastating it would be for their businesses, how devastating it would be for the millions of workers that the shadow minister spoke about. So what the residential construction industry doesn't agree on right now—
Ms Ryan interjecting—
The minister can pause for a second and the member for Lalor will stop interjecting. Ministers are entitled to compare and contrast to a very limited degree, which he has done. But the question did not ask for alternative policies in anyway so he needs bring himself back to the question, which was whether the government will deliver a stimulus plan.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The truth does hurt. In the end we have made huge investments into the industry. We have already, as I say, brought forward demand by the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, a scheme that the Labor Party also opposed—albeit for about an hour. The National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation has delivered over 1,500 new dwellings just this year, supporting our community housing providers.
We have gotten ahead of the curve. We have made these investments. We are supporting the businesses in the industry and the one million people who work in it, and we will continue to provide that support.