Senate debates

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Housing Affordability

3:01 pm

Photo of Doug CameronDoug Cameron (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Human Services) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers provided by Senator Brandis to the questions without notice asked today by myself and Senator Singh.

I noticed in one of the weekend papers that they had a scorecard for senators opposite. I think it might have been in the South Australian press. Senator Brandis was holding the rest of them up. I think he got a four out of 10. I have got to tell you, if the press had seen this performance today, it would have been even less than four out of 10. They might have even hit the minus button on his performance today.

Here we are, with the Attorney-General having absolutely no idea about the issues facing families on housing. He is dismissing negative gearing and capital gains tax reforms simply because it benefits those who vote Liberal more than anyone else. Liberal electorates are the ones that are doing most of the negative gearing and the capital gains tax assessments; they get more money out of it than anyone else. Yet ordinary Australians are out there, trying to buy a house. First homebuyers are absolutely struggling and this government—this mob, this rabble of a government, this divided government and this government that cannot even hold its own members in the government itself—has not got a clue about the issues on capital gains tax and negative gearing.

Senator Brandis says Labor's policies will push up prices. The Treasurer says there will be higher home prices under Labor's policies. The Assistant Treasurer says it would increase the cost of housing for all Australians, and yet the Prime Minister says:

Bill Shorten's policy is calculated to reduce the value of your home.

This mob does not have a clue. Go out to Parramatta, where many young families have gone out to establish a home. But unless you have got about $1.6 million, do not try to buy a house in Parramatta because you will never be able to get it. Go to Penrith, go to the lower Blue Mountains: homes there are now worth over a million dollars.

Yet the answer of former Senator Joyce, now the Deputy Prime Minister, is for young people in the Sydney metropolitan area to go bush. His answer is, 'Go bush, and everything will be okay! You can buy a cheap house out there. Abandon your family, abandon your community and abandon your job. Go to Toowoomba. Everything will be okay!' That is the answer this rabble of a government have for people. Yet Mr John Alexander is clear about the issue. Mr Alexander—Liberal member in the lower House and chair of the committee on housing costs until he was sacked by the government—has said:

We have been told time and time again that supply is the answer.

That is what Senator Brandis said today. Mr Alexander said:

But it's no good creating cities in the southern highlands and outside of Goulburn and outside of Shepparton if the same game is played ... where the investor will have an enormous advantage over the homebuyer and then dominate that market.

How many young homebuyers lob up to have a look at a house in Sydney and are asked, 'Are you here to invest or are you actually buying?' The investors have got all the cards in their back pocket. The investors are the ones who are going to make the gains. The investors are the ones who are going to buy that house. Young people are getting pushed out. Yet this government will not accept what economists are telling people all over the country, which is, 'You must get rid of negative gearing and capital gains tax to try to level the playing field for young Australians who are trying to get into the housing market.'

Yes, Wayne Swan, the former Treasurer, might have said something a few years ago. But I know Wayne Swan, and I know what Keynes said:

When the facts change, I change my mind.

That is what Wayne Swan has done. He has looked at the facts, something that this mob will not do. It is not right for Senator Brandis to laugh. Senator Brandis is going to be in London shortly, so it will not matter about the house prices! He is gone! (Time expired)


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