Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Treasury Laws Amendment (Reducing Pressure on Housing Affordability Measures No. 1) Bill 2017, First Home Super Saver Tax Bill 2017; In Committee
I just want to put a few facts straight. It's quite interesting to listen to the comments of the Labor Party, as if they're all for the battlers. I don't take sides in this House, whether it's the government side or the opposition side. My job in this House is to bring accountability for the people of Australia. It's quite interesting to hear that Senator Cameron and the Labor Party are not backing this. It's basically a savings for first home buyers so that they can, as a tax deduction, as well, to them, put it into their savings account, into their superannuation, so that they can actually draw on that money to then buy a house, if they wish. I think it's a wonderful idea. It's going to encourage people to save for their first home. It will help them tax wise, as well.
This has nothing to do with any other superannuation program or any other issues that the government may want to put across with their superannuation. This is about helping people to be able to save to buy a home—their first home. As Senator Leyonhjelm's amendments address, if you've had a house previously you're not going to be stopped from buying a second one further down the track if you face financial difficulties, or if you've been through a divorce or for whatever reasons. I think that's commendable in the amendments Senator Leyonhjelm is putting forward, which we will be supporting.
When Senator Cameron says, 'They don't care about the housing market and big investors, and they're not looking after them,' let me draw him back to what Minister Chris Bowen and the Labor Party did. For any foreign developers in this country—and we have so many Chinese over here, plus other developers; but they are mainly Chinese, with all the high-rise buildings going up in Melbourne—they actually changed the laws to say that, instead of 50 per cent of the property having to be bought up by Australian homeowners, the whole lot can be sold to foreign investors.' Oh, they're worried about the battlers! They were worried about Australians owning their own homes! No, they didn't. On top of that, there was no stamp duty paid on those units. So this is Labor worrying about Australians owning their own homes. They changed the laws so that all of that development could be sold to foreign investors.
Since the government have been in here—and I supported them—that has been changed. Fifty per cent of those development sites must be sold to Australians. You also talk about how they're doing nothing for anyone else. With the foreign investment that's happened in this country, especially in buying up our prime agricultural land, it was okay under Labor. They could buy anything up to $240 million. So they allowed the foreign investors into the country. It was under the coalition—I think it was under Prime Minister Abbott—that it was reduced to $15 million. I think it's still over the top, but at least they reduced it. So where was Labor on supporting our prime agricultural land? Nowhere to be seen.
Another thing is they talk about looking after everyone. The reason for the high cost of living—for which I will have a go at both Labor and the government—is high immigration. Until you actually reduce the immigration numbers coming into this country, our housing will continue to go up and up. We cannot provide the amount of housing that we require for our own Australians and also allow for foreign investors, plus the immigration levels.
You talk about pay cuts to hard-earning workers. But it's alright for the union to take these hardworking Australians' union fees to pay people to work on polling booths for a day at $400 a day. Where are all those union fees going? What about the Craig Thomsons who use the moneys from workers' union fees to pay for prostitutes or whatever? So don't you talk about workers.
Senator Cameron interjecting—
I remember a motion was put here in the parliament—moved by Senator Cory Bernardi and supported by One Nation and, I believe, Senator Jacqui Lambie—that there'd be not a cut but a freeze on politicians' wages until the budget was in surplus. There were six on this side agreeing to it. Where was Labor? Where was everyone else? On that side. So you weren't prepared to take a freeze on your wages.