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Thursday, 25 July 2019
Page: 1087

Mr LAMING (Bowman) (10:03): Homeownership remains at the heart of the aspirations of many young Australians, both urban and regional, and we've increasingly seen the deposit being a key barrier to homeownership. This has changed; even as recently as 20 years ago, servicing the loan was the key focus of homebuyers. It's really important to note that, after over 106 consecutive quarters of economic growth, homeownership in Australia has actually slowly, very subtly, declined. It's extraordinary to think that there may not be a greater proportion of Australians moving to own their first home. Increasingly, young Australians are saying to me and to my colleagues that the size of the deposit—the 20 per cent requirement—is the barrier, far more so, for those in stable jobs, than simply servicing the loan. People are effectively rent-trapped unless they have wealthy mums and dads who, through a single electronic funds transfer, could provide the deposit.

It's incumbent upon the federal government, which already has a strong record in this area, to help Australians own their homes. We've had the First Home Super Saver scheme and tax incentives for affordable housing; we've worked very hard to ensure there are limits on overseas ownership of new developments; and we've had clearer reporting and a much better understanding, ultimately, of where investment is coming from around the world in the potentially overheating elements of our property market. But it was the federal government that took this move in May of this year, and I want to commend the federal opposition for backing the scheme as well, which virtually guarantees its rollout for suburbs all around Brisbane, as a major city which will benefit from it. While it's number-limited, it also has some caps, of $125,000 for an individual and $200,000 for a couple.

If we are going to be incentivising homeownership, we need to make sure it's not regressive. Many countries around the world make homeownership interest tax-deductible. That's a highly regressive way of doing it. As the OECD has pointed out, the best possible way is to reduce the deposit barrier, because that's what gets people into homes. When I designed the deposit assistance scheme and presented it to Treasury staff in August of last year, my prime concerns were affordability, effectiveness and targeting. We can't afford to have this being taken up by people who were going to purchase a house in any case.

With the property market potentially levelling out and prices about to increase again in some areas, there is a smaller risk of negative equity. Now is the time to implement this policy as a trial. Cameron Handley, in my electorate, has had horrible treatment by the state government and was asked to pay back his first home owner payment for no other reason than that they found a technical glitch in who had constructed the property back in 2012. I support him, as he has said the federal government scheme would have had him in homeownership up to a year earlier than he otherwise would have been. He has lost a lot of capital gain opportunity. I think Prime Minister Morrison's policy announcement in May was a real turning point for young homebuyers.