House debates

Thursday, 30 November 2023


Help to Buy Bill 2023; Second Reading

10:37 am

Photo of Julie CollinsJulie Collins (Franklin, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Small Business) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

'Sold.' It's just a four-letter word, but for so many Australians it means much more. Whether it's said at an auction or a sticker stuck on a real estate sign, 'sold' and the purchase of a home is life changing.

'Sold' means the start of new beginnings, and new memories. 'Sold' means new neighbours. It means the start of a new community. And of course, for so many 'sold' is about family—a family home.

Even as our society has changed so rapidly, the family home has remained the backdrop to the best days of so many Australians—summers spent crowded around the outdoor barbie, late nights playing backyard cricket in the fading light, pencilled walls where siblings jostle to mark growing height, the messy kitchen table which becomes a makeshift study for homework and school projects.

The family home is in the books we read, the shows we watch and the songs we love. And while the dream lives on in our culture, the reality is home ownership has slipped out of reach for too many Australians. But we want to help change that.

The statistics tell us the story. Home ownership rates between generations have decreased significantly over recent decades, particularly for lower income households. The average time to save for a deposit for a house on a median income now exceeds a decade.

Our government understands the seriousness of this issue, which is why we have already acted.

We know it will take a suite of measures to help bring home ownership back into reach for more Australians and that's exactly what we're doing.

We committed to the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee before the last election and delivered it three months early in October last year. This guarantee has already helped more than 13,000 people across Australia into home ownership.

We expanded eligibility for the Home Guarantee Scheme from 1 July this year to help more Australians purchase a home through the scheme, and under our government we've already been able to help more than 86,000 people across Australia into home ownership through this scheme.

We also know we need to build more homes of every type to help bring home ownership back into reach.

That's why we've made the $3 billion New Homes Bonus available to states that exceed their Housing Accord targets to help to build 1.2 million well-located homes from 1 July next year.

This is backed in by a new $500 million Housing Support Program.

We've taken action already, but we know there's more work to do.

So today we take another important step forward to bring home ownership back into reach for more Australians.

Today we are introducing legislation to make Help to Buy a reality.

The Help to Buy scheme is an important part of our government's ambitious housing reform agenda.

Help to Buy won't just be a leg up to help Australians into home ownership.

It will provide long-term relief for participants in the scheme.

It will be the first national shared equity scheme of its kind.

Help to Buy will be delivered through Housing Australia and will assist Australians to overcome the hurdle of both saving for a deposit and servicing a mortgage.

Through Help to Buy, the Commonwealth will cut the cost of buying a home by up to 40 per cent.

Participants will only require a minimum two per cent deposit and will benefit from lower ongoing mortgage repayments through a smaller home loan.

States will need to pass legislation to participate in Help to Buy.

At National Cabinet in August, all states agreed to progress Help to Buy legislation so that the scheme can run nationally.

Housing ministers from across the country have recommitted to this agreement.

We're now taking action with the introduction of this legislation to help to ensure the government is in the best position to make this support available to Australians once at least one state passes legislation to participate.

We will continue to work closely with state and territory governments on the rollout of the scheme.

The bill sets out that Help to Buy will be delivered by Housing Australia.

Eligible participants will be able to access the scheme through participating lenders alongside a standard mortgage.

Housing Australia will then provide the Commonwealth's equity contribution through a loan arrangement secured against the property.

Housing Australia will be funded by a special appropriation to enter into Help to Buy arrangements and will provide a return to the Commonwealth when the equity is repaid.

The Minister for Housing will provide written directions to Housing Australia on the operation of the scheme, including decision-making criteria for entering into Help to Buy arrangements.

This is a similar approach to other government programs, like the Home Guarantee Scheme.

The bill also includes the administrative framework for Help to Buy, including that Housing Australia must report to the minister on an annual basis, that the minister must cause a review of Help to Buy as soon as possible after the end of three years from the commencement of the bill, and that regulations for Help to Buy may enable administrative review of Housing Australia's decisions under the program.

There is also a general power to make regulations that are required or permitted by the bill or are necessary or convenient to give effect to the bill.

The bill contains provisions enabling states to pass legislation for their constituents to participate in the scheme.

Help to Buy will be open to assist people who have owned homes before and those who haven't.

It will help couples, siblings and singles alike—those who are close to retirement, those just starting out in the workforce and anyone eligible in between.

Full details of the bill are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

This is an ambitious government, committed to a housing agenda that will improve housing affordability and supply.

This is a government that has already created the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund, the single biggest investment to support social and affordable housing in more than a decade.

This is a government that has provided $2 billion to state and territory governments to deliver around 4,000 new social homes, a government that has unlocked $575 million from the National Housing Infrastructure Facility, with homes under construction across the country today.

And it is a government that will invest an additional $1 billion in this facility to support yet more homes, and a government that has delivered the largest increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance in 30 years, which is already making a difference.

It is a government that wants to ensure that more Australians have a roof over their heads through a new National Housing and Homelessness Plan, a government that acts.

Today we take another step forward, because this government understands what buying a home means to Australians. It's giving Australians the certainty of homeownership, an opportunity to live in their community and the chance to create opportunities for their own families. We know what a difference this will make.

For Australians like Abbey and Corhan who were amongst the first to benefit from the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee, when they purchased their home through the guarantee it meant they could spend last Christmas in a new home with their young son McKinnon. To quote Corhan, 'It really did help.' We want more Australians to have this opportunity, which is exactly what Help to Buy will deliver, to open the door of homeownership to tens of thousands of Australians.

Delivering on Help to Buy, alongside our other housing commitments, will mean more Australians have a safe and affordable place to call home. It's what drives our government, every day. Our ambitious housing reform agenda is working across the board: more help for homebuyers; more help for renters; and more help for Australians needing a safe place for the night. Our government is working hard every day to help Australians facing housing challenges, and today we do more with this bill.

Debate adjourned.