Radio Interview with Richard King – 2SM Breakfast – Friday 25 March 2022


SUBJECTS: Labor’s Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme; cost of living; Kimberley Kitching

RICHARD KING, HOST: Federal Labor has moved to address out of reach house prices in Australia’s regional areas pledging to assist an extra 10,000 first home buyers a year if elected in May, under a new Regional First Home Buyers Support Scheme. It sounds like a good idea. Let’s find out more about it. Joining me now is the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare. Good morning, Jason. 


KING: Likewise. Can you just outline how this will work if you’re elected? 

CLARE: What we’re announcing today is a scheme specifically to help regional Aussies to buy their first home and to buy it sooner. It will operate like the current scheme the federal government does, but bigger. It’ll be triple the size. It’ll help triple the number of regional Aussies that get a helping hand to buy their first home. So, if you’ve got a five per cent deposit, the scheme will cover or guarantee the next 15 per cent so that you don’t have to pay mortgage insurance. If you don’t have 20 per cent when you go to the bank, as a deposit, to get a mortgage, the bank will ask you to pay mortgage insurance and that can sometimes cost you more than $30,000. So, this scheme guarantees the next 15 per cent so people can buy a home sooner with as little as five per cent deposit. It’s a good scheme, it works, but it’s too small. You know as well as I do how tough things are out there in regional Australia with house prices going through the roof. So, we’re going to triple the number of people that we can help.

KING: And is this available to anybody? I mean, if I’m earning $10 million a year, am I eligible for this?

CLARE: No, there’s an income cap. We’re not in the game of helping multi millionaires. But if you earn under $125,000 a year, or as a couple under $200,000 a year, this scheme is for you. It’s designed to help young couples out there in the regions that have got a five per cent deposit, but are struggling to get to that 20 per cent deposit to be able to buy the home sooner, to stop renting and get into that first home without having to be slugged by that awful big bill of lenders mortgage insurance that most people don’t know exist but is there to greet you when you sign on the dotted line for the mortgage. 

KING: Right. Look, given the problem is the increasing price of housing, particularly in regional areas and a lot of people argue that extra money from governments doesn’t do anything to bring the price down. In fact, it can escalate prices, because there’s more money about what do you say to that, Jason?

CLARE: Well, look, there’s been a review of the current scheme, it didn’t find that. Just to put this in perspective, Richard, there’s about 600,000 homes that are bought and sold every year in Australia. This is helping 10,000 and it’s targeted, a scheme targeted specifically to help regional Aussies on modest incomes and medium incomes that are struggling to save a big enough deposit to be able to buy a home. So, it’s a targeted scheme. And it’ll help people to buy that home sooner so there’s less time renting, without having to pay that big insurance bill.

KING: Okay, increasing housing prices, obviously a big issue. Your plan would get an extra 10,000 homebuyers in if you’re elected in May. Look, cost of living is obviously a big issue. Do you think it is one of the biggest issues that we should be talking about leading up to the federal election?

CLARE: I think it’s what everybody’s talking about. Anybody that owns the car that has to fill up with petrol every week knows that it’s gone through the roof. And it’s not just since Russia invaded Ukraine. Petrol has been on the rise now for over a year.

KING: Well, just on that. I spoke to Pat Conroy, one of your comrades earlier in the week, he wouldn’t commit to cutting the fuel excise. Do you think that would be a good idea?

CLARE: We’re waiting to see what the government’s going to do in the Budget on Tuesday night. They’ve flagged that they’ll do that. What we’ve said is that ordinary Aussie families need a helping hand with the cost of living, because whether it’s petrol or childcare, or rent, everything’s through the roof. Everything’s gone up except people’s wages and they need, I think most Australians would say this, they need a helping hand. 

This has been a problem now for years and 50 days before people are being asked to start voting, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg apparently worked out that people are having problems paying the bills and are going to do something about it in the Budget. Aussies are pretty smart, Richard. I think they’ve worked out that if the government really cared about them, they wouldn’t wait until they’re about to vote to do something to help. 

KING: Coming up to 26 past seven this Friday morning. My guest now is Jason Clare, Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Look, a big issue has been, since the tragic death of Kimberley Kitching, is allegedly a bullying culture within the Labor Party. Do you think that’s something that needs to be addressed, Jason?

CLARE: No party is perfect. No party is perfect but let’s take the politics out of this for a start, Richard. Somebody died. One of our colleagues that we loved and respected died. Their family has been in mourning. The extended Labor Party has been in mourning. Kimberley was only 52. Out of respect to her and her family, some of the claims that were made weren’t responded to last week. But we’ve made it very clear, Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally, Katy Gallagher have made it clear, that those claims of bullying didn’t occur. There was a complaint made by Kimberley that she was taken off the tactics committee. That’s not unusual, Joel Fitzgibbon is a man well known to you from up that part of the world. Joel was taken off the tactics committee to over the course of the last few years. So, those things happen. We’ve got what I think is a pretty good, strong, robust, independent complaints process in the party. We’ve got to keep making sure that we improve that to look after everybody in the party.

KING: Good to talk to you. Thank you very much for your time and have a great weekend. Jason. Good on you.

CLARE: Thanks very much.