Doorstop Interview – Bankstown – Saturday 3 October 2020


SUBJECTS: Donald Trump; First Home Loan Deposit Scheme; HomeBuilder; Social Housing.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS:  Thanks for coming along. Welcome to sunny Bankstown. First, on the news out of the United States. This is a reminder just how contagious this virus is. Can I wish the President of the United States and the First Lady a speedy recovery. This  is a reminder of just how contagious this virus is. The most protected man in the world couldn’t be protected from this virus. The Secret Service can stop a bullet but they couldn’t stop this.

But this isn’t just about the President and the First Lady. Forty thousand other Americans contracted the virus just yesterday, and about 800 died. What’s happening in the United States is a tragedy. More than 200,000 people have died from the virus this year and that’s just in the United States. It’s a reminder just how dangerous, how contagious and deadly these virus is.
On the housing announcement that the government’s made today, we’ve been calling on the government to act here for months, we’ve been calling on them to act since May. They’ve finally acted but what they’ve announced today is not enough.

What they’ve done is put a cap on the number of first home buyers that they’re going to help. They should scrap this cap and help all first homebuyers who want to build a new home as long as they meet the conditions of the scheme.

That’s the difference between what we’ve called for and what the government’s done. The government’s put a cap on the number of first time buyers they’re prepared to help. It means it’s effectively a lottery whether you get help from the scheme or not. Under our plan, we’ve said that you should lift the cap and help all first homebuyers who want to build a new home, as long as they meet the other conditions of the scheme.

It shouldn’t be a lottery for first time buyers, whether they get help or not. That’s why the government should just scrap the cap that they’ve created today. But even if I do that, that’s not enough.
We’ve got a housing industry at the moment that’s in crisis. The number of homes that are expected to be built this year is falling and falling fast and so we need to do more to help the tradies and all of the million workers who work in building homes for other Aussies.

One of the things that the government can do is fix the HomeBuilder Scheme.  The scheme is too small. It’s about a tenth of the size of what we did to help tradies in the construction industry during the GFC.

It’s rolling out too slowly. It was announced four months ago and it took about three months before most Aussies could even apply for the scheme. And still, no one’s got any money out of the scheme.

It’s also too restrictive. In order to get money out of the scheme for a renovation, you got to spend $150,000 on a renovation. Now that’s an expensive dunny. And in order to get access to the fund for a new house here in Sydney, you’ve got to buy a house and land package that’s less than $750,000. I’ve got to tell you, there’s not a lot of homes here in Sydney that are under $750,000.

Another problem with this scheme is that the deadline is too short. You got to have your application in by New Year’s Eve. Now for the 3000 odd people who had their homes burnt down in the bushfires, that’s almost impossible. And I can’t think of anybody in Australia who deserves some help to rebuild their homes and rebuild their lives more than those people. The Aussies who saw their homes burn before their eyes during the bush fires. They’re not going to be able to get their contracts signed and their applications in by New Year’s Eve, because of delays with insurance, delays with planning approvals, and just the trauma they’ve gone through.

So I call on the government to fix this bungled scheme in the budget as well. But even if they do that, that’s still not enough.
We’ve got an industry that needs more help. And that’s why I’ve called, and Albo’s called, and the Labor Party’s called for the government to put some money into social housing. Building and repairing social housing is going to keep more tradies working.

And it’s not just me or Albo or the Labor Party that I’m calling for this. It’s the Master Builders Association. It’s the Housing Industry Association. It’s the Property Council of Australia. These aren’t card carrying members of the Labor Party. They’re not raging socialists. These are people who represent the tradies and the builders of Australia. And they’re calling for the government put money into social housing, not because it’s going to create a better world, but because it’s going to create work for their members.

There’s about 100,000 run down government homes right across the country, in every town in every suburb of this country, that need to be repaired. If the government put money into repairing those homes in the Budget, then that would create work for tradies right now. It could be done fast, and you could have tradies on the tools by Christmas.  

I call on the government to take real action in the Budget. They’ve promised that housing will be a key plank of the budget. What they’ve announced today is not enough. If they’re serious about helping tradies and helping the housing construction industry, they’ll fix their bungled HomeBuilder Scheme, and they’ll put money into social housing in the budget on Tuesday night. Thanks very much.