House debates

Monday, 18 March 2024

Private Members' Business

Home Guarantee Scheme

2:45 pm

Photo of Alison ByrnesAlison Byrnes (Cunningham, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges that:

(a) the Government's expanded Home Guarantee Scheme has now supported more than 100,000 people into home ownership since the election, bringing home ownership back into reach;

(b) almost one in three first home buyers in 2022-23 were supported by the scheme, a significant increase from the previous year under the former Government;

(c) the Government delivered on its commitment to introduce the new Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee three months ahead of schedule in October 2022, and it has assisted more than 15,000 people across regional Australia into home ownership; and

(d) the Government has also expanded eligibility of the Home Guarantee Scheme to help more Australians who were locked out under the previous Government into home ownership;

(2) notes that:

(a) the Government wants to provide even more support for people to own their home through the Help to Buy scheme, which is due to start later this year following the passage of state legislation; and

(b) Help to Buy will support eligible home buyers with an equity contribution of up to 40 per cent for new homes and 30 per cent for existing homes, with eligible buyers needing as little as a 2 per cent deposit to buy a home; and

(3) further notes that the Home Guarantee Scheme and Help to Buy are just two parts of the Government's broad and ambitious housing agenda, with the Government committing funding of $25 billion in new housing investments over the next decade including committed funding to support thousands of new social and affordable rentals, with many already under construction.

There is no denying Australia is in the midst of the housing crisis. That is why we are taking action and putting in place short-, medium- and long-term plans to tackle the challenges left behind after a decade of little action by those opposite.

In July 2023, Business Illawarra launched the report Solutions to the affordable housing crisis in the Illawarra Shoalhaven, which highlighted what we all knew: this is not just a problem that is confined to the capital cities. Executive Director Adam Zarth described the property boom within the Illawarra as being great news for investors and property owners but terrible news of first home buyers, renters, low-paid workers and the many employers who rely upon them. You don't have to look too far to see this reinforced in the pages of our IllawarraMercury, painting a distressing picture of what is all too common and familiar in our regions. People work hard. They have a reliable income and have been good tenants who pay on time. Still, through circumstances they cannot control, they have become victims of the untenable housing situation in the Illawarra.

How we house Australians is at the forefront of my mind and at the forefront of the mind of this government. That's why we have committed $25 billion in new housing investments over the next decade. This includes the single biggest investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade, with the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. It is now established, and the first round of applications closes this week. Last month, I was pleased to welcome Housing Australia CEO Nathan Dal Bon to the electorate to host an information session with our community housing providers, builders and developers on the details of the program.

On top of this, the Albanese Labor government's expanded Home Guarantee Scheme has supported more than 100,000 people into homeownership since the election, including over 1,500 people in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven and Southern Highlands. The scheme—comprised of the First Home Guarantee, the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee and the Family Home Guarantee—helps eligible homebuyers secure finance sooner, through government support and deposits of as little as two to five per cent. We know that the family home and the structure inside it may look very different to how it did when I was a child. It is imperative that governments can adapt policies to keep up with a changing society. That is why, last July, we opened up the First Home Guarantee and the Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee to joint applications between friends and family members, not just single, married or de facto applicants.

The CoreLogic Regional market update for February 2024 revealed that average housing prices have increased by 44 per cent over the last five years. In the early 1990s, it would take the average Australian about seven years to save for a deposit for a typical dwelling; now it takes almost 12 years to save the same amount. That's why we introduced legislation to establish a national shared-equity scheme, called Help to Buy. Eligible participants will only need a two per cent deposit for Help to Buy, and the cost of a mortgage will be reduced by up to 40 per cent for low- and middle-income earners. We know that many renters could maintain a mortgage but can't afford the deposit. This will help more Australians get over the hurdle of a deposit and enjoy ongoing savings thanks to smaller repayments.

Standing in the way are the Liberals and the Greens political parties, delaying real progress and hurting real people. The HAFF was held up for six months whilst those opposite procrastinated. Every day of delay meant more Australians without a roof over their head. Mandy Booker, the formidable CEO of the Wollongong homeless hub, invited politicians who had blocked the HAFF to join her frontline staff and explain to the 13 children currently in crisis accommodation and the 57 children in transitional accommodation why they do not have a home to go to.

To those opposite, I say: stop standing in the way of vital support which will help renters into the security of homeownership. The Albanese Labor government have a mandate to deliver this critical new support, and we know that it will be life changing for tens of thousands of Australians. Addressing the housing crisis is part of our larger agenda to make sure that no-one is left behind or forgotten.

On 1 July this year, Labor will deliver a tax cut for every Australian taxpayer. We want Australians to earn more and keep more of what they earn. The changes mean all 13.6 million taxpayers will receive a tax cut—2.9 million more than would have benefited from Scott Morrison's plan five years ago.

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

Is the motion seconded?

Photo of Michelle Ananda-RajahMichelle Ananda-Rajah (Higgins, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

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.

2:56 pm

Photo of Graham PerrettGraham Perrett (Moreton, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Albanese Labor government is committed to taking action on housing to support more Australians to own their own homes and to ensure renters get a fair deal. The challenges in the housing sector today were not created by Labor, but we take responsibility to urgently deal with them. We're addressing a decade of dithering by the former coalition government by committing $25 billion in new housing investments over the next decade. What are the coalition and the Greens doing? They're intent on saying no to reform and no to action to resolve housing issues. The message to aspirational homebuyers is clear: the coalition and Greens don't want to help you into a home. The only thing they're saying yes to is delaying measures that will make real differences to Australians either looking to buy their own home or needing to access a rental property.

Labor understands how crucial it is to have a safe and stable place to live. We know that everyone needs somewhere to call home and that everyone needs to know the roof over their head is secure. That's why the Albanese Labor government has an ambitious housing reform agenda and why we've already made significant progress. Labor expanded the Home Guarantee Scheme by widening eligibility requirements to the First Home Guarantee and Family Home Guarantee schemes, which means that more people are able to secure finance sooner with government support, and the Family Home Guarantee was opened up to eligible borrowers who are single legal guardians of children, such as aunts, uncles and grandparents. The Home Guarantee Scheme has supported more than 100,000 people into homeownership since May 2022, with almost one in three first home buyers accessing the scheme. We also delivered the new Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee three months ahead of schedule, in October 2022, and assisted more than 15,000 people into homeownership.

The Albanese government's housing agenda is also having a positive impact in my home state of Queensland. The Miles Labor government is making Queensland the first jurisdiction to progress the Help to Buy legislation, which is now in the Senate. Nationally, Help to Buy will support 40,000 Australians, over four years, to buy a home. Eligible homebuyers with a deposit of just two per cent will benefit from an equity contribution from the government of up to 40 per cent, or 30 per cent for existing homes.

I am calling on the Liberals and the Greens to say yes to the 40,000 aspirational Australians who are waiting for a chance to make their homeowning dreams come true and to pass this crucial legislation. Labor is leading collaboration with the states and territories to help them meet the target to build 1.2 million new homes over five years, from July, through $3 billion new homes bonus and the $500 million Housing Support Program. This is in addition to the Housing Accord which supports states and territories to build 10,000 affordable homes.

To the more than 30 per cent of Australians who are renting a home: Labor has your back! The $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund will provide 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes. That's building on the $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator for 4,000 new rental homes. Our better deal for renters gives renters extra security. For the first time in Australian history, we're moving towards a nationally consistent policy to require genuine reasonable grounds for eviction. We're also leading efforts with the states and territories to improve conditions for renters. We're focusing on the development of minimal rental standards, and we want these standards to limit rental increases to once a year.

Labor knows that times are tough, so to assist with the rising cost of rent we've increased the maximum rate of Commonwealth rent assistance by 15 per cent. Labor is also providing additional support to those experiencing homelessness, with a $67.5 million boost to homelessness funding through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. All these reforms amount to the most significant action on housing issues in a generation. As my good friend, the Minister for Housing, said:

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.

It's time for the coalition and the Greens to support Labor's plan to build more homes, support more people to buy homes, protect renters and provide support for those experiencing homelessness.

Sitting suspended from 15: 00 to 17: 29