Senate debates

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Questions without Notice

Housing Affordability

2:14 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. On ABC radio this morning the Prime Minister, in response to Jon Faine saying his own kids were locked out of the housing market, said, 'Well you should shell out for them.' Is the Prime Minister's advice to young Australians struggling to buy their first home that they have to have wealthy parents?

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Dear, oh dear, oh dear! Senator Gallagher, I thought the Australian Labor Party might have taken matters a little more seriously on the day after the budget. Yet, after one question to the minister representing the Treasurer, we descend into political vaudeville with your second question, Senator Gallagher. That is how seriously you take the most important day of the parliamentary calendar—that is, the budget.

Senator Gallagher, I am very surprised that a Labor senator would raise the question of housing affordability, because there is one thing we know about your plans in relation to negative gearing, from which I note you are now crab-walking away, is that they would collapse the value of houses and push up the value of rents. That is what your policy in relation to housing affordability is, Senator Gallagher.

As you know, among other things, from the BIS Shrapnel report, with which you were acquainted as early as July of 2015, changing the negative gearing arrangements would take approximately one-third of the demand out of the housing market. What do you think, Senator Gallagher, happens to a market when you remove one-third of the demand from the market? The values of the assets collapse and, correspondingly, rents will go through the roof.

Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Nobody believes you.

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Conroy, there is not one serious economic commentator in this country who has disputed the proposition that if you take a third of the demand out of the housing market values will collapse and rents will rise. (Time expired)

2:16 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer again to the Prime Minister, who went on to say that wealthy parents shelling out for a home for their kids is to 'provide a bit of intergenerational equity'. Is the Prime Minister's only response to intergenerational inequity for young people to have wealthy parents?

2:17 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Gallagher, our approach is to make housing affordable for Australians while preserving the value of the asset class, which is the asset class held by most Australians. You do not assist young Australians by the negative gearing policy which you have announced. Though I note, by the way, that this morning when Mr Albanese was interviewed on radio, he actually declined to say that your policy was a policy about housing affordability. So far and so rapidly are you trying to run away from the consequences of your policy. Like so many policies that the Labor Party have put onto the table in the last year, this is a half-baked, poorly thought through policy which will achieve the very opposite of that which you claim for it, Senator Gallagher. But if you want to fight this election, Senator Gallagher, on— (Time expired)

2:18 pm

Photo of Katy GallagherKaty Gallagher (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Minister, which is worse: the former Treasurer saying that poor people do not have cars or the current Prime Minister saying that wealthy parents should shell out for a home for their kids? Either way, does it not show that a coalition government is completely out of touch with the majority of Australians, including young people struggling to buy their first home?

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

I will tell you which is worse, Senator Gallagher: your catastrophic policy. That is the worst of all worlds, because it seems slowly to be dawning on you, Senator Gallagher, that, as a result of the measures that you have announced in relation to negative gearing, the value of the asset class held by most Australians would significantly deteriorate. Housing values would significantly deteriorate while rentals would sharply increase.

Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr President, on a point of order: all three questions asked the Leader of the Government to defend what the Prime Minister said. Not once has he attempted to do that. I ask you, implore him to defend the Prime Minister.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

There is no point of order.

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Conroy, I did not actually hear the interview, but I always find myself in agreement with the Prime Minister on everything. But one of the things which I find myself in enthusiastic agreement with the Prime Minister is his well-informed critique of the consequences of your policy. If you want to take a policy to the election, Senator Gallagher, that would see the value of Australians' housing fall, bring it on. (Time expired)