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Wednesday, 28 February 2018
Page: 2403


Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (17:05): I speak often in this place and elsewhere about my mission to make Fisher the place to be for education, employment and retirement, but I don't often explain what lies behind that statement. At the heart of my mission for Fisher are the hopes and aspirations that I had when I moved to the Sunshine Coast 25 years ago. They are the hopes and aspirations that are shared today by the thousands of Australians, young and old, who are moving into my electorate as we speak. People on the Sunshine Coast want to be able to get the best education for themselves and their children, they want to be able to get a meaningful and rewarding job in a career of their choice, and they want to be able to retire in comfort and dignity with the highest quality health care. Importantly, they want to be able to do all of that without having to leave our community and move to a big city. That's why I want to help make the Sunshine Coast the place to be for education, employment and retirement. I want people to be born on the Sunshine Coast or to move here and to be able to make that long-term commitment to our region, to live on the coast, work, put their roots down, make a contribution and help us build a prosperous and healthy community. That's what the people who come to the coast want and that is what I want to help them achieve for themselves and their families.

For that to happen, the people of Fisher need to have the opportunity to fulfil one of the most important of their aspirations—that is, to own their own home. For most Australians, home ownership is a fundamental part of their financial security and, indeed, their life plan. It is the rock on which many things are built. For many years, as you are aware, Mr Deputy Speaker Howarth, I was a builder, and I have seen the effect that owning a first home can have on a young family: the sense of achievement and the feeling of security and of belonging to a community. I want that for everyone in Fisher, for those who live here now and those who will join us in the coming years.

Current projections suggest that we are likely to see more than 200,000 new residents moving to the Sunshine Coast by 2035. There is a transformative program of housing construction already underway. At Bokarina beach, Palmview, Beerwah east and at the two very large developments at Aura and Harmony, the construction of tens of thousands of new houses is under way. At Harmony, near Palmview, accommodation for as many as 17,000 new residents is being built, while at Aura, near Caloundra, 20,000 homes will house 50,000 new Sunshine Coasters over the next 30-odd years. According to the developer, Stockland, 70 per cent of those living in Aura will be owner-occupiers and 45 per cent of them will be new, or first, home buyers. Aura is a great example of how hardworking aspirational Australians can get out of the rent cycle and make a start in growing their family's prosperity for themselves and for future generations. Like Harmony and the other developments going on around the coast, Aura offers house-and-land packages targeted specifically at affordability, with prices well below the region's median house price.

Thousands of young families are taking up these opportunities and getting a foot on the housing ladder. Forty per cent of buyers to date are key workers like nurses, police officers and teachers. Some are even pest control operators, Mr Deputy Speaker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Howarth ): Hear, hear!

Mr WALLACE: They are the hardworking mums and dads, the battlers, who want to get ahead to build a future for themselves and to give something back, who form the basis of any community's success. This sort of long-term commitment to community, this independence and determination to build one's own prosperity, is exactly what we need on the Sunshine Coast and, indeed, all over the country. Homeownership is one of the foundations of financial security. It's a starting point of from which to build and a statement of intent. I congratulate all of the new homeowners at Aura, Harmony, Beerwah East and all of the many developments around the Sunshine Coast on taking that important step on the path to prosperity. For those who are new to the coast, I want to thank them for making such a significant commitment to our community.

I want that dream to be a reality for everyone in Fisher, but I'm well aware of the challenges facing my constituents. I know how hard it can be. That's why, back in April 2017, I held a housing affordability summit in my electorate at the Dicky Beach Surf Club. The Assistant Minister to the Treasurer joined us and representatives of Sunshine Coast developers, community groups and housing associations to discuss the challenges of affordable housing and housing affordability on the coast. I'm grateful to Paul Bidwell of Master Builders Queensland; Deb Blakeney of Lions inPlace; Kelli Dendle of CHASM; Andrew Elvin and Helen Glanville of Coast2Bay; Shane Goodwin and Warwick Temby of HIA; Tony Long of Affordable Housing; John McNamara of SMS Finance; Ben Simpson and Llew Gartrell of Stockland; Shane O'Brien of Vantage Homes; and Joy Morwood of Sunshine 60 & Better for giving me their very broad feedback. This extremely useful session identified a range of factors increasing housing stress on Sunshine Coast. The summit identified the lack of availability of alternative finance approaches for homebuyers, layered taxation on new homes from multiple tiers of government and the so-called NIMBYism effect.

In particular, the assembled community groups identified the importance of stable employment in avoiding housing stress and making housing more affordable to more families. The Turnbull government has already made a massive difference in that area, creating around 1,100 new jobs every day over the past 12 months. In fact, 403,103 jobs in total were created, with more than 75 per cent of them being full time. Having a second income in a household makes it considerably easier to afford housing. More than 60 per cent of those new jobs last year were taken up by women, creating the highest female participation rate in our nation's history. With the unemployment rate on the Sunshine Coast even lower than the national average—the Sunshine Coast rate being 5.1 per cent—this is already making a huge difference in making housing affordable for more local families.

The most important factor identified by the group was supply. The summit heard that some land on the Sunshine Coast had increased in value by more than 400 per cent, while the cost of building had increased by only 100 per cent. The number of land sales had more than halved in recent years. The developer Stockland pointed out that it had taken 14 years to get the Aura development set up, approved and commenced. In particular they noted the challenges of getting utilities and other infrastructure put in place for the sort of massive new developments that we need. The summit agreed that the most important way to deal with housing affordability on the coast was to get the right supply in the right place and at the right densities as quickly as possible. With more than 200,000 more people expected to move to the Sunshine Coast in the coming 20 years, we urgently need more supply. At my housing affordability summit we heard that for community groups the availability of finance and their comparatively small operations are barriers which reduce their ability to fill demand. For large developers the slow process of getting necessary infrastructure in place and the availability of land were the most important constraints.

It is these challenges of supply which the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Bill 2018 so efficiently addresses. The establishment of a National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, with the real clout of $1 billion to spend, will make a real difference to unlocking housing supply in our community of Fisher and, indeed, throughout Australia. By aggregating the lending requirements of multiple community groups, the corporation will be able to reduce risk, reduce borrowing cost for community housing providers and create the scale needed for them to efficiently deliver the affordable housing that we need. With their large-scale funds and independent Commonwealth mandate, the corporation will also be able to intervene to ensure that key infrastructure is built more quickly, by addressing coordination issues and overcoming financial constraints.

There will also be a multiplier effect from this investment corporation which will work to boost the effectiveness of the government's other actions on housing affordability. The Turnbull government will unlock more Commonwealth land for development. The investment corporation will help to ensure that that land can be developed quickly and will help community groups to get involved.

The Turnbull government is creating financial incentives for first home buyers and low- to middle-income Australians through the First Home Super Saver Scheme. The investment corporation enshrined in this bill will help to ensure that the supply needed to meet that fresh demand is available as quickly as possible.

On the Sunshine Coast, the federal government has already done a great deal to help to give more people the chance to start their journey to prosperity, by putting in place the infrastructure that we need to grow. We have committed more than $1.6 billion to upgrades to the Bruce Highway in our region alone—which, Mr Deputy Speaker Howarth, you are no doubt aware of because your particular area is also the beneficiary of that expenditure of money.

The federal government has created a $10 billion National Rail Program, which could support upgrades to the North Coast rail, another initiative which would impact very favourably upon Mr Deputy Speaker's electorate of Petrie. We have improved telecommunications infrastructure with new mobile phone blackspot towers in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, while the government's reform of the NBN is ensuring that rollout is progressing throughout our region.

The first home buyers moving into Aura, Harmony, Beerwah East and in fact all of the Sunshine Coast today should feel rightly proud of their achievements and excited about what the future holds for them and their families—that is, greater recognition and importance of the concepts of independence, self-reliance and growing success. I and the Turnbull government want that for everyone in Fisher and everyone, in fact, right across our nation. This government has a plan to make that dream more accessible to more people, and this bill is at the heart of that plan. I commend the bill to the House.