House debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2024


Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment Bill 2024, Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Investment) Bill 2024; Second Reading

4:31 pm

Photo of Anne StanleyAnne Stanley (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to make my contribution on the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment Bill 2024. The measures in this bill will take effect from 1 April 2024 or the day after the bill receives royal assent, whichever occurs later. This bill implements the increase to foreign investment fees announced in the 2023-24 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. It does this by increasing the maximum fee that can be imposed by regulation to $7 million to facilitate the increases being implemented by the regulations in schedule 2 of this bill. As a result of the bill, foreign investors who apply to purchase an established dwelling will have their fees tripled. Further, all property owners who purchase an Australian dwelling after 9 May 2017 and leave it empty will have their vacancy fees doubled. Finally, new purchasers of existing properties who leave them vacant will have their vacancy fees increased by six times as a result of the tripling of the application fee and the doubling of the vacancy fee. Application fees for new dwellings, vacant land, agricultural land, commercial land and business entities will remain unchanged.

Regularly constituents come to me and complain about overseas investors, particularly when they leave their properties empty, and the potential issues, particularly in my part of the world, for homebuyers and for people seeking to rent when there are empty properties. The government puts the interests of Australians seeking to find somewhere to live or to buy their first home first. These changes are our way of doing something to make a difference in this space. Higher fees for the purchase of established homes, increased penalties for those that leave their properties vacant and strengthened compliance will help ensure that foreign investment in residential property in Australia is in our national interest. Importantly, application fees for new dwellings and vacant land remain unchanged.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Investment) Bill, which is also being debated today, amends the International Tax Agreements Act 1953 to clarify that foreign investment fees and similar state and territory property taxes prevail to the extent of any inconsistency with Australia's double-tax agreements. This will ensure that such fees can continue to be imposed on foreign nationals who purchase Australian property. This measure will have a retrospective effect, applying the relevant taxes that are payable on or after 1 January 2018. This time limitation broadly aligns with the statue-of-limitation periods under state legislation.

I'm proud to stand on this side of the chamber to support the bills before us today, and I do so in the knowledge that the Treasurer is putting the interests of Australia and Australians first. This was demonstrated by the recently announced tax packages and is demonstrated again by this piece of legislation. I'm sure it will be welcomed by members of my community.

I commend the bill to the House.

4:35 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

At local markets and street stalls, people often share with me their stories about housing and the rapid population growth occurring right across my electorate of Corangamite in Victoria. They also voice their frustration at seeing so many empty homes across the region. These homes are left vacant while others struggle to keep a roof over their heads. The Albanese government understands that having a place to call home is important to Australians, to their wellbeing and to their capacity to reach their potential. This legislation tackles this issue, so I stand today to support the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment Bill 2024. This bill is making sure that foreign investment aligns with our government's agenda to lift the nation's supply of housing. It's also about making sure that we have more houses for more people. The people of my electorate have been calling for this, and our government is acting on their calls.

This bill increases penalties for foreign investors who leave properties vacant. This reform will help ensure that foreign investment in residential property is in our national interest. At the same time, our Albanese government will cut application fees for foreign investment in build-to-rent projects to support the delivery of more homes across Australia. These changes, which were announced in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, include a tripling of foreign investment fees for the purchase of established homes and a doubling of vacancy fees for all foreign owned dwellings purchased since 9 May 2017. Together, this means a sixfold increase in vacancy fees for future purchasers of established dwellings. But, of course, this is not to say that foreign investment is not welcomed. It is welcomed as long as it is in the best interests of Australian communities.

Under the current framework, foreign nationals are generally barred from buying existing property but can do so in very limited circumstances, such as when they come to live here for work or study. When they leave the country, they're required to sell their property if they have not become a permanent resident. Our changes further encourage foreign nationals to buy new property. The higher fees for established dwellings will encourage foreign buyers to invest in new housing developments. The increased vacancy fees will encourage foreign investors to make their unused properties available to renters and, importantly, this will help create additional housing stock and jobs in the construction industry, and support economic growth. When passed, these measures will take effect from 1 April this year and, for many, this can't come soon enough. Our government recognises this, and we also recognise that over the past decade under the coalition governments, our housing market had lost its way. We know that, under former coalition governments, it was so much harder for Australians to enjoy a fair wage, put food on the table, do well at school, keep good health and own their own home. All the while, houses were left empty. That is not what our communities deserve, and that is why the Labor government is acting. With cost-of-living challenges facing all Australians, this bill signals our government's commitment to ensuring that people right across our nation have access to the dreams and ambitions of homeownership—a dream which has been the pillar of our national identity for decades.

From post-war reconstruction, when the Chifley Labor government delivered the nation's first-ever federal housing policy, to the housing policies of Whitlam, Hawke, Keating, Rudd and Gillard, Labor leaders understood that owning your own home was the key to a rewarding life—a life well lived. Under their leadership, owning a home became the foundation of our new national story. It was the heart of iconic TV shows, like The Sullivans and Neighbours. And who can forget the classic Australian drama The Castle, which told the story of homeownership and the great Australian dream to own your own home. It told this story to the world. But, over the past two decades, former coalition governments have systematically closed the door on homeownership for so many Australians and dismantled this key component of our national identity. 'Tell 'em they're dreaming,' was the coalition's message to Australians who dreamed of owning their own home. Previous coalition governments were more than happy to leave homes empty across the nation while hardworking Australians went without. We know that, because of the inaction of the former Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government, under them, outright homeownership rates dropped significantly. This inaction was fuelled by infighting and leadership squabbles, which were aptly showcased in last night's Nemesis program on the ABC.

This bill is all about changing that reality. It will help to reshape our housing market by further bolstering our ambitious housing agenda. It's an agenda that includes $10 billion in the Housing Australia Future Fund to build 30,000 new homes in its first five years; a new national target to build 1.2 million well-located homes; a $3 billion new homes bonus; a $500 million housing support program; and a $2 billion social housing accelerator to deliver around 4,000 new social homes across Australia. And there's more. There's our National Housing Accord, which includes federal funding to deliver 10,000 affordable homes over five years from 2024; an investment of an extra $1 billion into the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to support more homes; up to $575 million in funding already unlocked from the national housing reconstruction facility, with homes under construction across the country; and an increase in the maximum rate of Commonwealth rent assistance by 15 per cent, the largest increase in more than 30 years. And it doesn't stop there. There are new incentives to boost support for rental housing by changing arrangements for investment in build-to-rent accommodation; a $1.7 billion one-year extension of the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement with states and territories, including a $67.5 million boost to homelessness funding over the next year; the development of a new national housing and homelessness plan; and, finally, a better deal for renters, which the states and territories have agreed to implement.

Through this suite of measures, the bill I stand in support of today, we are making a real difference for so many Australians looking to buy a home of their own. For example, our Home Guarantee Scheme has seen more than 100,000 people able to secure a home since it was passed in May 2022. This is important progress but we recognise more needs to be done, and that's what this bill and our ambitious housing agenda is all about.

On this side of the House, we recognise that a home of our own represents security, opportunity and prosperity. These principles are foundations for the Australian way of life, and homeownership is the key. I understand this, and our government understands this. We know that people young and old across the nation are worried about the supply of housing. We want to see more Australians in a position to enter the housing market, and we want to see all Australians with a roof over their head. That's why I support this bill, and it's also why I voice my support for the Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Investment) Bill 2024. This bill works in tandem with the foreign acquisitions bill. It will clarify the uncertainty associated with the interaction between foreign investment fees and similar state and territory property taxes and Australia's double tax agreements. It also clarifies foreign investment fees and similar imposts to ensure they prevail over the double tax agreements. This will provide certainty that such fees continue to be imposed.

In closing, these reforms are about strengthening our housing market for local communities. Our government understands that, with local and national leadership, cooperation with the states and industry and the right housing policies, we can make a difference in the medium and the long term. Together, we can put Australian interests first and ensure Australians benefits from foreign investment in Australia. Importantly, we can breathe life back into the great Australian story of homeownership. I commend the bills to the House.

4:44 pm

Photo of Keith WolahanKeith Wolahan (Menzies, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I acknowledge I'm not on the list; the member for Kennedy is. I think it's only fair that I channel him just for a few moments while the minister is here! He hasn't sent me the talking points, but I would have loved to have heard what he had to say on this issue. While the minister is here, I would like the opportunity to briefly address this topic of homeownership. It is one that is becoming increasingly important in our country, particularly for those who are in suburban seats, because the cost of housing is becoming prohibitive. What we know is that, when we look at the median wage of Australians—not just the average, but the median wage—it is becoming out of reach for Australians to afford a home of their own. Many Australians will say: 'Of course, very few people buy a house on their own. They're part of a household. Couples usually buy a house.' That's true. So let's take the median wage, which is halfway. If we had 10 Australians, it's the person in the middle. There are two of them together looking to buy a house. In metropolitan Melbourne, where my seat is, there are 354 suburbs. What we know is that a household that is a couple on the median wage looking to buy the median house can afford zero—none of those suburbs. They're completely priced out. Then you would say, 'Manage your expectations. What about a unit?' and it is 15 out of 354 suburbs that are open to that household.

Government Members:

Government members interjecting

Photo of Keith WolahanKeith Wolahan (Menzies, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We are letting young Australians down. We are letting the next generation of homeowners down. There are interjections coming across. I can't hear them all, but I'll be upfront: this is not a partisan issue. All parties are to blame for this. This has occurred over many years. We can do better on homeownership. We must do better on this particular bill. It comes down to enforcement—

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm going to interrupt the member. The member for Bruce?

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I just wondered whether I could make an intervention under standing order 66A, and invite the member perhaps to address if homeownership is so important why he's not supporting the Help to Buy Scheme, which would make a real and immediate difference.

Photo of Karen AndrewsKaren Andrews (McPherson, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I ask the member if he is prepared to take the intervention.

Photo of Keith WolahanKeith Wolahan (Menzies, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am prepared to take the interjection—

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

No, it's an intervention, so now I get 30 seconds.

Photo of Keith WolahanKeith Wolahan (Menzies, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Go for it!

Photo of Julian HillJulian Hill (Bruce, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I won't use it all. I'd agree with your last comment that the concern for homeownership is felt across the parliament. We represent metro areas, but it's also an issue in rural and regional Australia, quite shockingly so—the minister's home state of Tasmania, for instance. But it does seem like political partisan posturing to say these fine words when the Liberal Party, the National Party and the Greens political party are deliberately holding up the government's commitment in the Help to Buy Scheme. I'd invite you, if you're serious about it, to address why you won't support this legislation and let it progress through the parliament.

Photo of Keith WolahanKeith Wolahan (Menzies, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll take the interjection. We have now seen a partisan interjection. When we look for serious solutions to a serious problem—those were fine words that the Prime Minister used in 2012—then we get talking points. We get a scheme that is not designed to actually lift homeownership. It's designed to say that the government will have a seat at the dining table and own your property. That will create enormous complexities. We know when households and couples are required to buy a home the sad reality is many of those relationships break down. If a party to that relationship is the government, how is that dealt with? How is that going to play out through the courts? Whether it's the HAFF or this scheme, we are seeing talking points driving the potential for us to do better. We need to move away from the talking points and actually solve the problem.

I'm from the seat of Menzies. It's named after Robert Menzies. We heard the comment made that the Liberal Party hasn't done much for homeownership. It was under Robert Menzies that homeownership saw the greatest increase. In 1949, homeownership rates were at 53 per cent. When he left office in 1966 they were at 71 per cent. What happened over that time were two things: we saw one of the greatest migration booms in Australia and we saw interest rates that were about 5.2 per cent. That's very similar to what we have now. Under similar conditions, with a high migration boom to this country and relatively high interest rates, we saw homeownership rates go through the roof. We've done it before, and we can do it again. The key is acknowledging that at the moment there is a massive issue of supply of affordable housing throughout this country. The gridlock is coming through councils and through state governments, and there are certain levers that can be pulled in this place which can actually make a difference.

To the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment Bill 2024, which we're discussing today: in my community, the city of Whitehorse is a council that partly covers my area. Councillor Blair Barker had a freedom of information application to note how many residences were unoccupied in that particular council. It was in the many thousands, but there were only 40 properties and owners that were levied the vacancy levy. There's a real issue with enforcement. If we are to have the residential property market be more than just the equivalent of money under the mattress—there's a lot of capital floating around the world, and the Australian residential property market can't be the equivalent of money under the mattress. It is so much more to our economy and to our sense of who we are.

With that, I would like to yield to my good friend the member for Kennedy.

4:50 pm

Photo of Bob KatterBob Katter (Kennedy, Katter's Australian Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On the matter of foreign ownership of housing, I feel a great sense of frustration. In Charters Towers we were under a mining act that meant that, if you wanted to do a subdivision, it had to go to the clerk of the mining court, a local person who lived in Charters Towers deputised for the mining magistrate. My wife and I didn't have enough money to complete our house, so we had to do a subdivision. She went in, and he said, 'Fill out that form, Susie.' She filled out the form. It took her about 15 minutes. He said, 'Give me 25 bucks.' She gave him 25 bucks, and he signed it and stamped it. She said, 'When can I sell it?' and he said, 'Now.'

If you want to go through that process in Charters Towers now, you're looking at two years, about $50,000, getting an expert environmental opinion, getting an expert anthropological opinion and getting an engineering opinion. When the mining court was abolished in Charters Towers, the price of an undeveloped housing block was $7,000. Within one week under the new regime, it went to $142,000.

Now, you don't have to be Albert Einstein, and I am no fan of Malcolm Turnbull, I can assure you, but Malcolm Turnbull and an Oxford don who was an Australian but a professor at Oxford did a report on why housing prices are unattainable in Australia, an empty country. Two hundred kilometres from any city in Australia and you're in empty land. No matter which direction you travel, the land is empty—unless, I suppose, you're on the coast. When I say 'coast,' I'm talking about 50 kilometres of coastline. How can this be? How can an empty land with the cheapest land in the world have housing prices of $820,000 in Brisbane and $1.2 million in Sydney? Well, if you're a Liberal, look no further than your leader Malcolm Turnbull and his report. He simply said it is not a demand problem. Governments keep giving cheap loans, subsidised loans—giving people money—to buy houses. That increases the demand but, of course, it further, relatively, diminishes the supply. The problem is on the supply side.

Get rid of all the regulatory impositions and go back to the old mining act in Queensland. You say, 'Oh, you couldn't just let people build a house anywhere they like.' That's what we did in Charters Towers, a town of 16,000 people, a hundred years ago a bigger town than Brisbane. They've been doing it for 100 years there, and I, as the member of parliament there for 50 years, have never had one single complaint about that arrangement—well, for the 20 years while we were governing, until the socialists came in and, of course, went over to the Local Government Act and abolished the magnificent legislation of Red Ted Theodore, the founder of the Labor Party. It's a pity that some of you Labor blokes didn't go back to your roots.

We now have a situation where land prices are absolutely colossal. The biggest developer in North Queensland died recently, but I think he'd appreciate me quoting him in the house. Bobby Norman, Sir Robert Norman's son, the founder of the other airline in Australia, said: 'I've sold the 2,000 acres at the back of Cairns because I have not got enough years in my life to complete all the rigmarole that is required of the Australian governments, state, federal and local. I haven't got enough years left to subdivide that 2,000 acres which we desperately needed for housing in the greater Cairns region.' That's a region, I might add, of 300,000 people. It's not like we're small; we're anything but and rapidly growing. The answer is so simple. Surely you can see that, if you put 200 impositions upon a subdivision, you're going to set housing prices through the roof. I'm not going to go into the cost of housing. Similarly, they are applying all sorts of rules and regulations to house building, which adds, I am told by people who know, some $48,000 to the cost of a house. If you put together what government has done to land prices and what government has done to housing prices, we end up where we are.

As for foreign takeovers and acquisitions—I mean, if I were a member of the Labor Party, I'd go and hang myself, drown my head in a toilet or something. I withdraw that remark. I'm just trying to find an analogy for the shame that you must feel—and the Liberal Party probably more so. They say that Queensland is about the four Cs: coal, cattle, cane and copper. The copper industry was owned by an Australian company, Mount Isa Mines, proudly created by a wonderful Australian. It's now owned by a foreign corporation.

On the coal industry: I'll give you 200 bucks—and I'm a pretty stingy beggar—if you can find an Australian owned coalmining company. Coal is gone. On cattle: the two biggest cattle aggregations in Australia are both foreign corporations: the AA Company and Consolidated Pastoral Company. What the hell are we left owning in Australia? The entire cane industry, which has carried the Australian economy along with wool since the nation's inception, got Australia out of Great Depression. The Labor Party was founded in the cane fields of North Queensland.

God bless Red Ted Theodore and the great Theodore Labor movement. I say 'Theodore Labor movement' because it bears no relationship to the Labor Party here today. In fact, I'd say it represents the exact opposite position. They were free marketeers, and we are anything but free marketeers. When it went down, half of us went over to the Country Party and half to the Labor Party. Kevin Rudd's family and my own were classic examples of that phenomenon. They were the same policies and the same party and had the same people in the Country Party! We had a wonderful government for nearly 100 years in Queensland.

On the cane industry: every single sugar mill was Australian owned, and all bar three of them were owned by the farmers themselves, the local people. There were 23 mills owned by the people and three mills owned by an Australian company. Now all 23 mills—because that's all that's left—are foreign owned. Who's responsible for that? Who deregulated and destroy that industry? The people in this room destroyed that industry and handed it over to foreign corporations. You abolished the right of the farmers to what the employees call arbitration. The farmers had arbitration. The Theodore family were cane farmers as well as being miners and as well as being workers and employees. They understood arbitration. They fought for it, and they created arbitration in Australia. Not surprisingly, they extended it to the farmers. Farmers all had the protection of arbitration whether it was the wool industry, the cane industry, the grain industry or whatever it was. They had arbitration until it was removed.

Let's have a look at their dirty work. Every single sugar mill now is foreign owned. Three have closed down, and the rest are foreign owned.

An honourable member: Except Rocky Point.

Well, we'll leave that up in the air. You and I both know there's a huge question mark there. But I take your point. It's a 'rocky point', but I'll take it anyway. Let me just say that we are now at the mercy of foreign corporations. Every single cane farmer just has to take what the mill feels like paying. Unlike any other industry, we have only 12 hours to get that cane into the mill before it starts losing its sugar content. So we are at the mercy of the mills. Who put us at the mercy of the mills and foreign corporations? People in this House did. People on both sides of this House did. Let's talk about copper. Mount Isa Mines is arguably the second-biggest mining company in the world. Jim Foots bought it off the Americans and turned it into arguably the second-biggest mining company in the world. It's now foreign owned. It's now Glencore.

If you want to put the ownership of your country in the hands of foreigners, have a look at Mount Isa. They have a working mine which has copper in it. But, of course, if you're an international commodities trader, you don't want to have all the worry of working a mine. You just want to trade the asset: the copper in the ground. So surprise, surprise! They closed the mine. It puts in jeopardy the whole copper industry in north-west Queensland, which doesn't matter a great deal, because the incoming Labor Party took away the 'use it or lose it' clause in the legislation that the Theodore governments had put there. Now you can be a foreign corporation, own the mining lease and do nothing with it except trade it on the stock market. That's all you have to do. There's no necessity for you to create a job here in Australia. In fact, Glencore has just announced the sacking of 2,000 Australians in Mount Isa. Twelve hundred direct and 800 indirect jobs will vanish. Does the government do anything about it?

We carried on, by the traditions of the Country Party in Queensland—the much-maligned Bjelke-Peterson governments—the wonderful Theodore government's policy. We continued on exactly the same policy: you use it or you lose it. As the mines minister in Queensland, the town of Emerald is the size that it is today because I said to the coalmining company, 'You open up your operations to that line, or I am taking it off you and giving it to somebody who will work it.; That is a matter of public record. I got attacked at the time for doing it. The ALP removed the Theodore legislation: use it or lose it. So now our great mining wealth is just a plaything for the stock markets of the world and the share market sharks in Sydney—and I apologise to all sharks for saying that. Can it be worse? There's coal, cattle, cane and copper. We're talking about a few houses being owned by foreigners when you're whole economy is owned by foreigners! They can pay you whatever they like to pay you, and the profits don't go here. I'm a mining man; I'm not a cattleman. I've had cattle all my life, but I'm not a cattleman. I'm a mining man. Minerals have doubled in price. No matter what it is, they've doubled in price over the last 10 years. Boy, oh boy, that's wonderful for Australia. No, it means absolutely nothing to us. We don't own the minerals! The foreign corporations do. In actual fact, our mining wages have been driven down, and I won't say anything about the coalmining leadership. I won't say anything about that; I might get a defamation action. But we have been forced down from 185,000—and I addressed the workers at the workers club at Moranbah, and I said, 'Hey, fellers, we were on 185,000'—and everyone nodded their head—'and now we're on 135,000,' and everyone nodded their head. And I said, 'Well, soon we'll be down, down, down.' Now, this has been in a time period when coal has arguably doubled in price. So coal has doubled in price and the workers have had their wages cut! That will be a good indication of some of the unionism in Australia.

I am very proud of my union, the CFMEU, and I want to make the point that the coalminers are not part of the CFMEU. I am very proud of my association with my union and very proud of our performance. If we were in charge in Mount Isa Mines, if we had coverage—and I fought, as a young bloke of 19 years of age, to get coverage for the CFMEU in Mount Isa Mines—then I can assure you that that mine would be reopened. Now, I'm good friends with three people who ran Mount Isa, and they all said that that mine should never be closed. (Time expired)

5:06 pm

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

I am summing up the debate around the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment Bill 2024 and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Investment) Bill 2024. I'd like to begin by thanking all the members who have contributed. We did get some spirited debate on these bills.

Certainly the Albanese government has a broad and ambitious housing agenda, to deliver more homes for Australians—more social homes, more homes to rent and more homes to buy. Together, the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment Bill 2024 and the Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Investment) Bill 2024 will implement the measures announced by the government in the 2023-24 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, to triple foreign investment fees for established dwellings and to double vacancy fees, to ensure foreign investment in housing is consistent with the government's agenda to boost Australia's housing supply.

Schedule 1 to the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Amendment Bill 2024 will amend the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Act 2015 to increase the maximum fee cap and align indexation across all foreign investment fees. Schedule 2 to the bill will amend the Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Fees Imposition Regulations 2020 to triple foreign investment application fees for established dwellings and double vacancy fees for foreign investors who have purchased residential dwellings, new and established, since 9 May 2017.

Higher fees will encourage foreign owners to rent out properties, as well as incentivising foreign investment into new dwellings to increase Australia's housing stock. The higher fees for established dwelling applications will encourage foreign buyers to invest in new housing developments. As I said in the second reading speech for these bills, this will create additional housing stock and support economic growth. The increased vacancy fees will encourage foreign investors to make their unoccupied properties available to renters, providing more homes for Australians that need them.

Now, the government knows we need to make sure that foreign investors follow the rules. That's why part of our plan, announced in MYEFO late last year, is to give the ATO, the Australian tax office, an additional $3.5 million to up compliance. So we're acting by introducing this legislation, by boosting the Australian tax office enforcement and by encouraging more foreign investment in build-to-rent projects, to make sure that foreign investment supports this government's mission to make more homes available to more Australians.

The Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Investment) Bill 2024 will amend the International Tax Agreements Act 1953 to clarify that foreign investment fees and similar state and territory property taxes prevail over Australia's double tax agreements. This will provide certainty that such fees and taxes can continue to be imposed.

Together, these bills will support the integrity of the foreign investment rules, with the aim of encouraging foreign persons to purchase new properties to increase Australia's housing stock. The government's housing agenda represents the most significant housing reforms in a generation, after a decade of little action from the former government. With the passage of these measures through the House of Representatives today, we are adding to these reforms to ensure more Australians have a safe, affordable place to call home. I commend these bills to the House.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.