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Coalition makes inroads into Labor lead -

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Coalition makes inroads into Labor lead

Broadcast: 13/08/2007

Reporter: Narda Gilmore

The latest opinion poll has shown the Federal Government is finally starting to close the gap on
Labor, despite the interest rate rise last week.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Meanwhile the latest opinion poll shows the Government's finally starting to close the
gap on Labor despite last week's rate rise.

And as the economic debate intensified today, Kevin Rudd announced his latest plan to ease the
housing squeeze - a $600 million scheme to provide new homes at below market rent.

It's been welcomed by industry but dismissed by the Treasurer as ill thought out and wasteful. From
Canberra, Narda Gilmore reports.

NARDA GILMORE: Over morning tea in suburban Canberra, Kevin Rudd was again talking family finances.

KEVIN RUDD (to renter): What's the rent on a place like this?

RENTER: $260 a week.

NARDA GILMORE: The latest chapter in his affordability crusade coincided with the release of the
Housing Industry Association's affordability index for June.

RON SILBERBERG, HOUSING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION: Housing affordability for a typical first home buyer
has plummeted to the lowest level on record and that means the worst in 23 years.

NARDA GILMORE: It's not just home buyers feeling the pinch; the Labor leader today turned his
attention to renters.

KEVIN RUDD: The idea is to make life a bit easier....

NARDA GILMORE: His $600 million plan will encourage banks and investment funds to build 50,000 new
homes in the next five years with the promise of tax breaks if they offer rents at 20 per cent of
the market rate to low income earners.

KEVIN RUDD, OPPOSITION LEADER: To help people get out of the rental trap and to help them save
enough to accumulate enough for a deposit on a house of their own.

NARDA GILMORE: This morning the Prime Minister was anything but dismissive.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: The intent of it was good, I'm not criticising the intent.

NARDA GILMORE: But by this afternoon, the Treasurer was scathing.

PETER COSTELLO: Labor's announcement today is not even a drop in the ocean.

NARDA GILMORE: Peter Costello says the plan is flimsy giving little benefit to the vast majority of
renters.

PETER COSTELLO: This is a wasteful proposal which is principally to deliver bigger benefits to
property developers than it is to renters.

KEVIN RUDD: Will it solve all problems? No it won't, but we really think this is a really practical
step in the right direction.

NARDA GILMORE: John Howard admits that housing affordability is an issue.

JOHN HOWARD: And we will be having more to say about the whole issue of housing affordability.

NARDA GILMORE: Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce is one backbencher urging actions, suggesting
tax-deducted billeting for first home loans.

BARNABY JOYCE, NATIONALS SENATOR: Went and saw the PM about housing affordability and he's
listening, he's listening and he's taking on board the issues.

NARDA GILMORE: But first home buyers shouldn't get their hopes up yet.

PETER COSTELLO: I think if you just increased demand without affecting supply, all you'll get is,
you'll get prices rising. That's the weakness of those proposals.

NARDA GILMORE: As Labor went to new lengths to paint the Howard Government as out of touch, the
latest opinion poll finally provided some welcome news for the Coalition. Today's AC Nielson survey
has the Government primary vote up two points since last vote while Labor's fell three. After
preferences the Opposition still maintains a strong 10 point lead.

KEVIN RUDD: You've heard me over what, 50 or 60 opinion polls, say it's going to be a very tight
election.

JOHN HOWARD: We would still be very heavily defeated if that poll were repeated at an election.

NARDA GILMORE: But it was enough to boost the confidence of one Government backbencher today.

BACKBENCHER: And my question's addressed to the greatest Prime Minister in history.

NARDA GILMORE: The Coalition's boost in the polls comes despite last week's interest rate rise, but
with the prospect of another hike on the cards before the end of they year, the Government's now
focused on convincing voters the situation would be worse under Labor. Narda Gilmore, Lateline.