Master Builders Australia National Leaders Summit 2022








There’s less than 100 days till Australians decide who their next government will be.
One of the big issues in this election will be the cost of housing.
Buying a home is the biggest and most important investment most of us will ever make.
And the fact is it’s getting harder.
In the last 12 months house prices have jumped by an incredible 25 percent.
And in a lot of places it’s jumped by a lot more than that.
Here’s just a few examples:

  • In Wamberal and Terrigal, on the Central Coast of NSW, the cost of the average home jumped by a whopping 45 per cent in the last year. 
  • In Kiama, on the South Coast, prices jumped 35.7 per cent.
  • In Cessnock, in the Hunter, they have gone up by 33.3 per cent.
  • In Torquay, in Victoria, they went up by 34.5 per cent.
  • In Launceston, in Tassie, the cost of the average home increased by over 40 per cent.

If you already own a place it’s great.
Your home probably made more last year than you did.
But if you are trying to buy – it’s now harder than ever before.
Remember the good old days when the only bug we were worried about was Y2K?
Back then the average home cost about four times the average income. Now it’s about double that.
Not surprisingly, the people this it has hit hardest are people on lower incomes.
Young people on low incomes in particular.
Back when I was a kid and Bob Hawke was PM 60 percent of young Aussies on lower incomes owned their own home. 60 percent.
Now that number is less than 30 percent.
That is a massive change, for the worse.
And the real impact of that will only be felt decades from now when these young people retire and are still renting.
The government points to the programs they have run that have helped people into their first homes.
But HomeBuilder is temporary.
The Government’s Home Guarantee Schemes are a good idea. We support them.  They can help eliminate thousands of dollars in mortgage insurance.
But if we want more Australians to live in a home that they own there is a lot more we need to do.
At last year’s MBA Leaders Summit I said we need a National Housing and Homelessness Plan that is more ambitious than just a response to the pandemic and lasts longer than just 12 months.
A plan that helps more Australians buy a home, helps Australians who rent and helps put a roof over the head of more Australians.
At the Labor National Conference in March last year this became party policy.
This is something that everyone has been asking for, from Master Builders Australia, the HIA and the Real Estate Institute right through to National Shelter and Homelessness Australia.
And if we win the next election we will do it.
It will look at things like land use planning and land supply.
As you know if we can make improvements here we can boost productivity and improve housing affordability.
It will also look at ways to encourage the private sector to build more affordable housing and the desperate need to build homes for homeless Aussies.
We all know how much the cost of buying a home has gone up. We get told on the news every second night.
But what if you rent?
It doesn’t make the headlines, but this is the biggest bill millions of Aussies pay every week and in the last 12 months it has gone through the roof.
The PM was asked the other day who much a litre of petrol costs. He should have been asked how much rent has gone up.
Have a think about this, the jump in the cost of petrol in the last few months means the average family with an average car is now paying about an extra $900 a year.
If that same family is renting, their rent has probably gone up by about double that. 
In some places even more:

  • In Cairns the average rent has gone up by over two thousand dollars.
  • In Burnie the average rent is now two and a half thousand dollars more than it was this time last year.
  • In Launceston it’s three grand more than it was this time last year.
  • In North Nowra – not far from here, on the South Coast – it’s gone up by more than three grand.
  • On the Central Coast the average rent is now three thousand six hundred dollars more this year than it was last year.

This is the coal face of the cost of living debate politicians are having right now.
The places I mentioned are the sort of places that will determine who wins the election in a few month’s time. And they are hurting.
But it’s not just them. This is happening everywhere.
This is a photograph from the Cairns Post, from a story from a couple of months ago.
What it shows is a mum, a dad, a 13-year-old daughter and their dog sitting in the boot of their car on the edge of the Captain Cook Highway with a sign that says:


Then it has their mobile phone number. That shows you just how desperate and dire things are.
These aren’t backpackers looking to hitchhike up and down the coast. This is a family trying to find an affordable place to rent.
Here’s another story, from Lake Macquarie, about a bloke who hired a car to sleep in. How does that happen? He hired a car to sleep in because he couldn’t find an affordable place to rent.
Here’s another story from the Newcastle Herald about a young woman named Chloe. She’s 24. She’s a nurse at a local hospital. She’s sleeping in her car as well.
A bit further up the Pacific Highway, in Coffs Harbour, I heard a story last year about a place that was up for rent where 50 people turned up to have a look. The person who eventually got the property had to pay the rent 12 months in advance and had to take out a personal loan to do it.
Further up the highway, at Byron Bay, there isn’t a women’s refuge.  I was told there that the local police commander reckons there are 400 women and kids sleeping in cars around the town.
The charities in these places tell me that they’re now seeing as many as three times the number of people coming in for help that they saw 12 months ago.
That’s Australia at the moment.
Remember that when the Treasurer rattles off the statistics about the economy.
There are more homeless Aussies today than ever before. That alone should tell you there is something is seriously wrong here.
There are lots of things we need to do to fix this.  One of them – the most obvious – is build more housing. More affordable housing and more social housing.
If we win the election we will do that. We will set up a ten billion dollar fund called the Housing Australia Future Fund.
It will be run by the Future Fund Board of Guardians and the dividends it produces will fund the construction of social and affordable housing.
In its first five years it will build 30,000 social and affordable homes.
4,000 of those will be for women and kids fleeing domestic violence.
10,000 will be affordable homes for key workers like nurses, cleaners and aged care workers.
It’s the sort of thing the government should do.
It’s good social policy.  Its also good economic policy.
This fund will make money, create jobs, build homes and change lives.
There aren’t many policies that get the support of everyone from the Real Estate Institute and the Property Council right through to groups that represent homeless Aussies.
But this one has.
And I am really grateful for your support.  
When Albo announced it last year Denita said:
“Last year when the country was in the grip of the pandemic and the economy was locked down, Master Builders in conjunction with the CFMEU, called for a $10 billion social housing stimulus fund… The Opposition Leader and the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness have listened. We applaud the Opposition’s $10 billion social and affordable housing fund,”
Two weeks ago a dream team of nine housing organisations, including Master Builders, badged the National Affordable Housing Alliance, put out this report which calls on the government to do four things to boost the construction of affordable housing.
One of those is a Housing Future Fund.
If we win the election it will happen.
I said earlier, the election is now less than 100 days away.
We are in the hunt.  We are competitive.  We are united. 
And we are full of energy and ideas.
Thank you Denita for everything you have done to help me over the last three years.  All the tips and advice.  I really appreciate it.  It has helped me a lot.
And if we are fortunate enough to win the election I am really looking forward to working with you and all members of the MBA.
Working together, building more housing.
Working together, to help build a better future for all Australians.