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Thursday, 25 June 2009
Page: 7228


Mr CHEESEMAN (2:53 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women. Will the minister inform the House about any new information on the impact of the government’s plan to support jobs in the building industry?


Ms PLIBERSEK (Minister for Housing and Minister for the Status of Women) —I would like to thank the member for Corangamite. I know he is very concerned about employment in the construction industry in his area in particular. In October the government established the first home owner boost because we knew that increased activity in the housing and construction area would support jobs, not just in the construction industry itself but also in the material supply, retail, banking and other associated industries. I am very pleased to inform the House that, by the end of May this year, 97,761 households had taken up the first home owner boost. That means that by now well over 100,000 households have benefited from the first home owner boost. That is nation building for our future.

The member for Corangamite has been telling me about how successful this boost has been in the area he represents—in suburbs like Grovedale, Torquay and Colac. It is a story I have been hearing around the country. For months the official data has been telling us that record numbers of first home buyers are entering the market. Housing finance data shows that, and ABS data on employment by industry shows that employment in the construction industry was up by 10,000 jobs in the three months to May 2009.

Two months ago I visited a first home buyers show in Brisbane. There I saw the number of people getting information about entering the housing market. I also met Rob Lyndon, the Managing Director of Adenbrook Homes. He said to me that, whereas once upon a time first home buyers accounted for about 10 per cent of Adenbrook’s business, they now account for about 40 per cent of Adenbrook’s business. That means that they are bringing a different type of product to the market—smaller and more modest homes. Theirs start at $125,900, plus land costs. They are also expanding into three additional regions because of the extra demand generated by this government’s first home owner boost.

Of course, our support for housing and construction reaches beyond first home buyers to the $6.4 billion we have set aside to build 20,000 new public housing dwellings across the country. The great news is that we are well ahead of schedule with this building. With the $400 million we have set aside for repairs and maintenance, we had originally planned for about 2,500 homes to be saved from the wrecker’s ball. Instead, 10,648 dwellings will be saved from the wrecker’s ball and another 38,000 homes will have other work done to them. In stage 1 of new construction, which is under way, we are building 2,690 dwellings, which is 400 more than we anticipated, and 500 of these homes are being built as we speak. The first one is complete and a family has already moved in—well ahead of the time we expected.

This government has a plan for nation building for recovery. It would be terrific if the opposition focused, as we have been focusing, on jobs for Australians.