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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 492


Senator HUME (Victoria) (15:06): I am very pleased to get an opportunity to speak on the particular issue of housing affordability, because it is an issue that I have a personal interest in. Actually quite recently, I have been trying to buy my own house. Now, for those of you who are not aware, I am a single mother and I have three children. I am trying to find a house that is affordable and that is in a reasonable position—

Senator Cameron: That is on a base salary of $200,000, so you are not doing too bad.

Senator HUME: As you said, I am on a parliamentarian's salary. But it is a tough gig, trying to find somewhere that is appropriate for your children—schools—and trying to find somewhere that is near elderly parents. This is tough for me, so I can only imagine how tough it is for those who are not as well off as we are.

Housing affordability is not a problem that can be solved with a blunt instrument. It is not a problem that can be solved with a simple solution of changing negative gearing or changing capital gains tax. There is so much more to this problem. It is highly nuanced. We have already discussed the issue of supply. We have discussed that over and over again today, and surely, logically, this is one of the answers. Opening up supply, not just in our cities but on the outskirts of our cities, is vitally important. Demand and supply are so interconnected in this particular issue. And this is something that the federal government is looking at right now. But it is not just a federal government issue; we need state government to buy in, and we need Labor state governments to buy into this issue. It cannot be directed solely at the federal government. We need a bipartisan approach to housing supply issues.

But beyond that, we need to take the next step, into regional development. This is something that the coalition government has been committed to for a long time now. We have been trying to decentralise Australia's urban population with things like the Building Better Regions fund, which is $297 million over four years, and with things like the Roads to Recovery program—$3.2 billion. These are the programs that will encourage people to look beyond our major cities, to look beyond the east coast to establish their lives elsewhere, places where there is housing affordability, because it is not an Australia-wide problem; this is definitely east coast, and it is definitely centred on major cities.

That said, there are other things that we can do. It is not just a matter of moving to Toowoomba or moving to Townsville. There are microreforms that state governments can take part in, and the federal government will also be considering those issues—things like stamp duty, if you look at some of the changes that the ACT government has recently implemented. It will be interesting to see how they play out. But certainly stamp duty is one of the great inhibitors of housing affordability. And that really is a state government issue. Beyond that—and this is something that I am particularly excited about—is not just the issue of housing affordability but affordable housing. And I know that Treasurer Scott Morrison has taken this particular issue and made it his own—and the appointment of the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, Michael Sukkar, a fantastic fellow and very, very well qualified to be dealing with this particular issue and working in this space. He has been canvassing a number of coalition MPs and also undergoing a lot of research into this particular issue. I know that the Treasurer has recently come back from the UK, where he spoke to the UK's Housing Finance Corporation about social investment in housing. That is an absolutely fascinating thing that the UK has been doing, because the THFC is a finance aggregator and an intermediary that co-funds affordable housing for rent-ownership. This shared ownership model is something that I think the coalition should be considering—that I know that the coalition is considering. But, again, it is one of those things that requires longevity. Housing affordability is a long-term project. To implement this appropriately needs bipartisan support. So, I would urge those opposite to look beyond the blunt instruments of negative gearing, beyond the blunt instruments of capital gains tax, and think outside of the square. It is not just about those two solutions. (Time expired)