April 23, 2017

Labor unveils its housing crisis plan

22 April 2017, 12:50 | Austin Hogan

Labor has released its housing plan ahead of schedule

Bill Shorten

Finally, the National Affordable Housing Agreement, which costs the federal government $1.3 billion a year and which Mr Morrison has signalled could be axed in the budget, would be renegotiated by Labor to get better outcomes, a Housing Minister would be re-appointed and the National Housing Supply Council would be re-established.

In Sydney to unveil Labor's plan to tackle Australia's housing affordability crisis, Mr Shorten said the government couldn't be "fair dinkum" about helping first home buyers unless it was willing to reform negative gearing and address foreign buyers and self-managed superannuation fund borrowers.

In a joint statement circulated in the lead-up to Friday's announcement, Shorten and Bowen said the next round of changes would "improve housing affordability, create jobs, increase financial stability, and reduce homelessness".

Prohibiting self-managed superannuation funds from borrowing for property purchases.

The party estimates its policy would drive the construction of more than 55,000 new homes over three years and boost employment by 25,000 new jobs per year.

Labor is also promising to work with state governments to impose a vacant property tax across jurisdictions, picking up a recent proposal from the Victorian government which is estimated to raise $80m in revenue over four years.

Labor will argue Abbott- Turnbull governments have ignored warnings to act on unfair and distortionary housing tax concessions - negative gearing - and on the risks associated with increased borrowing by superannuation funds.

The fees applying to foreign purchases of properties worth $1m or less will increase from $5,000 to $10,000, fees on properties between $1m and $2m will increase from $10,100 $20,200, and properties valued at between $2m and $3m will attract a fee of $40,600, up from $20,300.

It would also double the maximum financial penalties for breaches of foreign investment rules.

About $88 million would be spent on a new "safe housing fund" for people escaping domestic violence and those at risk of homelessness.

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"The great Australian dream has turned into a nightmare on Malcolm Turnbull's watch", he said.

"Right now, the system is rigged against ordinary Australians".

Mr Willie said federal Labor's plan should have a big impact in Tasmania, where households were among the poorest in the nation.

The coalition will release its own package in the budget on May 9.

Labor's infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese insisted his party's policy will make housing more affordable.

"They think a one-size- fits-all approach to housing affordability is the way to go, and clearly it isn't", he told Sky News.

"That will bring down the price of houses", he said.

"You have to deal with supply and also have to deal with what is happening in the market, and we're dealing with it", he said.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann labelled the Labor plan "reckless, ideological and counterproductive".

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