Published: 25 June 2015

 [5.54 p.m.]

Ms FORREST (Murchison) - Mr President, I feel like deja vu.  We debate this every year as well.  I am not going to go over all the points I have made in the past except to say my view has not changed.  This is an initiative that was originally brought in by the former government that was continued by this Government. 


The former government had the First Home Owner Grant as well which I spoke about a number of times.  A number of eminent sources, much more eminent than myself in this area, have clearly shown that the First Home Owner Grant is inflationary and the Government admitted that last year and the year before, and that is why they have dropped the First Home Owner Grant.  I support the move to do that.  The previous government has also acknowledged that.


There is no dispute about that, and no doubt.  We can say all we like as real estate agents or whatever that it does not, but clearly it does.  From a real estate agent's point of view the bigger the house price the bigger the commission they get.  We all know that is how it works.  It is in the interests of the vendor and real estate agents to get as big a price as you can.  The market price is what people will pay.  If they have more money to spend they will potentially spend more.


I support the First Home Builder Boost to a degree.  There are elements in this that could push up building costs, so it needs to be watched carefully.  The Government is now winding it back a little.  That is one of the reasons, as well as budget pressures, and I understand that.  It does add to the housing stock.  As the honourable member for Apsley was saying, when rentals are tight and when you can add to the building stock and free up some housing that can be used for rentals or whatever, it has that benefit.  Not only do you have the employment associated with building, but also the addition to the housing stock, which is a positive thing.  We need people to come and live in them, so we need our population to increase.


I support the bill, but if the Government winds it back further then I do not have an issue with that either.  If you brought in a first homebuyer grant again at a low rate, it would not assist.  If those people are so close to the wire that they rely on it to get their finance, they are likely to go under anyway and overcommit.  We need to be careful we do not send false signals.


Mr Dean - That is why I asked that question.


Ms FORREST - That is right.  Whether building or buying we need to be cautious we are not creating this false sense that we have this extra $5 000 or whatever it is.  To some people $5 000 is an awful lot of money.  When we had the baby bonus of $5 000 I used to hear discussions behind the curtains in the maternity ward about what it was going to be spent on.  It was like the $5 000 was going to last the duration of the baby's upbringing.  I used to hear they were going to buy motorbikes and couches and all sorts of stuff.  For some people, $5 000 at that time was a big sum of money.  They had no concept that it does not go very far when you have a new baby.  This is a different topic, but we need to be cautious we are not sending messages to people that this is a lot of money and they are suddenly able to afford to buy a house.  I support the Government's previous decision to remove that aspect and potentially to wind this back gradually.


There are a number of factors for the building rate increase.  Part of it has been this boost, I do not deny that for a moment, but low interest rates and other factors may have assisted.  We need to look at this in the whole picture, not in a narrow view, which you can tend to do and say it is all because of the First Home Builder Boost.  No; interest rates have not been lower for a very long time and that would certainly help.  Good on people for taking the opportunity.  Now is the time to borrow, if you can afford it, to get the house built because interest rates have never been lower.


[5.58 p.m.]


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