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Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Page: 9741


Senator WHISH-WILSON (Tasmania) (18:00): While the Greens think the amendments moved by Senator Leyonhjelm are well intentioned and we broadly support the intention of Senator Leyonhjelm's amendments, I just want to highlight that the issues at stake here around housing affordability are much bigger than what we see in these two bills. The Greens have been very clear that we want to see significant structural reform in relation to housing affordability, and not just housing affordability but tackling inequality in this country and raising revenue—revenue that we desperately need in this nation to pay for schools and hospitals. At best, this is fiddling around the edges. We want to see structural reform. We want to see arguably the worst tax we have in this country, stamp duty, being swapped for a broad-based land tax.

The Greens had this costed by Parliamentary Budget Office. I know it's ambitious and it's bold, but I don't think there's a single economist or commentator in this country who doesn't agree that it's a good idea—

Honourable senators interjecting

The CHAIR: Just a moment, Senator Whish-Wilson. Order, please! We're in committee stage.

Senator WHISH-WILSON: for the federal government to show some leadership and provide an off-balance-sheet loan to compensate the states and drive this transition. Then we might start dealing with issues around supply of housing, housing occupancy and vacancy rates. We might start dealing with some serious issues around value capture, which we've discussed in this chamber before when we've been talking about infrastructure.

We also believe that we need to make brave decisions—and the Greens have led on this now for years—to drive reform, get rid of capital gains tax concessions and get rid of negative gearing. We know that, if we do that, our own estimates through the PBO show that, even if we phase it out over time, even if we design it to minimise the impacts that we see around retrospective legislation, we can raise $13 billion over the forward estimates over four years. That's money that we desperately need in this country.

Let's be really clear about what this is today. This is a smokescreen for a government that's trying to show that it's doing something about tackling housing affordability in this country. But there's no evidence that a super saver scheme for first home buyers, or even for Australians who are down on their luck and who want to own a home, is actually going to work. We have already gone through this in the second reading debate. The Rudd scheme failed badly; virtually nobody used it. It's not going to do anything about housing prices, which is one of the key issues here. If anything, it's just going to add to demand-side pressure to push up housing prices.

We reiterate our message in this debate. If we're actually here to represent the people of Australia, especially young Australians and low-income Australians who are reflected in those HILDA surveys I talked about in my speech, and tackle this issue, this is not the right way to do it.

The CHAIR: The question is that amendments (1) to (3) on sheet 8317 revised in respect of Treasury Laws Amendment (Reducing Pressure on Housing Affordability Measures No. 1) Bill 2017, as moved by Senator Leyonhjelm, be agreed to.