Consideration in Detail – Housing

Mr CLARE (Blaxland) (12:21): I have two questions I’d like to ask the Minister for Housing. The first question is about land supply. In 2017 the minister promised to release surplus Commonwealth land for housing development. The 2017 budget documents state, ‘The government is committed to making underutilised and surplus Commonwealth land available for housing.’ That statement was made in budget papers that are now four years old. My question to the minister is: has any surplus Commonwealth land been released for housing since that promise was made four years ago and, if so, how much?

My second question to the minister is about the Family Home Guarantee. My question is: will you commit today to lift the price cap for this scheme? No answer there. This was exposed as a problem in the Launceston Examiner three weeks ago—

Mr Sukkar interjecting

Mr CLARE: Well, I’m asking you a question. You’re the minister. Are you going to answer the question? I’m going to give you a bit more detail and then I hope that you’ll give me an answer.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Bird): Members and Minister, we don’t debate the process across the chamber. The member has five minutes. The minister will have a chance to answer the question.

Mr CLARE: I asked the minister about this when we debated this legislation in the parliament recently and all I got was him with his head down, pretending I wasn’t there. I asked him: is there a 10,000 hard cap on this scheme? There was no answer. I didn’t get an answer in estimates about that either. Maybe you will give an answer to that as well. Is it a demand driven scheme or is it a hard cap? I don’t get an answer on that.

Will you lift the price cap for this scheme to make it work? It will be interesting to see if we get an answer on that today as well, because it was revealed in the Launceston Examiner three weeks ago that, if you’re a single parent in Launceston with a couple of kids looking to use this scheme to buy a three-bedroom house, there’s not much you can buy. I checked on today and there are four places in Launceston, so there are only four places you can buy if you’re a single parent looking to use that scheme to purchase property there.

I asked the minister in the debate in parliament if he would lift the cap. That seems to be the obvious thing you need to do there to make sure that people in Launceston can access this scheme. I didn’t get a response from him, but I did get a response from the member for Bowman. In speaking in the debate after me, he said, ‘If you can’t find a place in Launceston then get in the car and drive until you can find somewhere under $300,000.’ Is that really the government’s policy? Is that really what we’re telling people—’If you can’t find a place where you live at the moment, where your job is and where your family is, you should just move’? Surely not. The simple easy way to fix this is to lift that cap.

One of the places in Launceston that’s for sale under $300,000 has an ad that says ‘renovate or detonate’. It doesn’t have walls. But the government is saying this is a scheme for single parents with kids.

And it’s not just Launceston. I had a look on the internet today; in Nelson Bay, just north of Newcastle, the cap is $450,000. How many three-bedroom homes do you think there are under that price in Nelson Bay? The answer is none. The answer’s the same in Byron Bay. There’s not one three-bedroom home there under the cap that the government has set. It’s the same in Coffs Harbour; there are zero places there. It’s the same in Moruya on the south coast; zero three-bedroom homes that you can buy under the cap. It’s the same in Narooma. In Bega, there’s one place. In Ballina, there are two. It’s not just the east coast of Australia; it’s the same on the west coast. In Karratha over in WA there is only one. It’s the same in Port Hedland; only one three-bedroom home that you can buy under the cap that the government has set for this scheme.

They’re just a couple of examples. It’s obvious that price caps are way out of whack with the cost of housing in Australia. It’s also obvious what the solution is: lift the cap. I’m sure the minister knows this. I’m sure the member for Bass knows it. I’m sure they’re having private conversations about how to fix this mess. It’s simple; raise the cap. So I ask you to make a commitment today to raise the cap. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Bird): Was the minister seeking to answer?

Honourable members interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I’m assuming the minister was seeking to answer the questions earlier. Is that correct?

Mr Sukkar: If he said it in his time, I was very willing to. But I’m not going to deprive—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: In that case, I’m just going to say to all present that I’m finding it very hard to hear people with the constant conversation backwards and forwards. I’m giving the call to the member for Fisher.