TUESDAY, 3 MAY 2022
SUBJECTS: Cost of living crisis under Scott Morrison; interest rates; Help to Buy; electric vehicles; wages; AGL; Scott Morrison failing to deliver on his promises; gender pay gap.
GORDON REID, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR ROBERTSON: Well, welcome everyone to the beautiful and the sunny Central Coast. My name is Dr Gordon Reid. I’m the Labor candidate here in Robertson. And I’d firstly like to begin by thanking Lydia and welcoming us into her home. Thank you so much, Lydia, to share your story and your experiences. I also want to thank Anthony Albanese, Leader of the Australian Labor Party, for coming here to the Coast today, along with Jason Clare, the Shadow Minister for Housing, and Emma McBride, the Federal Member for Dobell. We all know right across the nation, but in particular here on the Central Coast, housing prices are skyrocketing. And it’s becoming more and more difficult and unattainable for people right across the coast to get a home. And now with that, I’d like to hand over to Anthony Albanese to say a few words.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, thanks very much. What we know is that under Scott Morrison cost of living is in crisis, we know that the price of everything is going up, but people’s wages aren’t. And today, potentially, we face the triple whammy. Low wages, rising inflation and rising interest rates. Scott Morrison, of course, is happy to always take credit for anything that goes right. But he always says it’s not my job. It’s someone else’s fault. It’s nothing to do with me when things aren’t going so well. So today, of course, there will be a significant announcement by the Reserve Bank, and we await that at 2.30pm. And of course, the Reserve Bank independently will come to that decision. I also want to say that today’s an opportunity for us here with Jason Clare, our housing spokesperson, but also with Emma, and, and with Gordon, to talk about our Help to Buy scheme. This is a practical measure. It’s a practical measure to assist people get a foot in the door, and then get a roof over their head. This will help 10,000 people a year. It’s a practical scheme. It comes at a cost of $329 million, across the forward estimates, but will recoup $445 million from our plan to double foreign investment fees and penalties. This is a practical plan, which is why it’s been supported so strongly by the Housing Industry Association, by the Master Builders. It’s operated effectively in Western Australia for some 30 years. In New South Wales Premier Perrottet is looking at just such a scheme, it’s operated in Victoria, in Tasmania they’re looking at extending it, it’s operated in the United Kingdom, and Canada. This is a practical measure to assist with, a cost of living measure. Because when people have a secure roof over their head, they have that sense of belonging, that sense of ownership, that sense of security that comes with that. And Labor is determined to do all that we can to give people a more secure future.
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Okay, thanks, boss. And thanks Lydia for letting us into the backyard today. It’s not an overstatement to say that we’ve got a housing crisis in Australia. It’s harder to buy than ever before, it’s harder to rent than ever before. And there are more homeless Aussies today than ever before, house prices have jumped by 25 per cent in the last year nationwide. Here on the Central Coast, it’s more than that, it’s about 31 per cent. And in some places, it’s in the 40s and rent has jumped by about 15 per cent. It’s getting harder and harder, not easier. Now, lots of Aussies are still making the plunge. Lots of Aussies are still doing their absolute most to make the great Australian dream a reality, but for more Aussies it’s getting harder and sometimes impossible. Think about this. If you go back almost 40 years to when Bob Hawke was the Prime Minister of Australia, then you’d find that about 60 per cent of young Aussies on low incomes, own their own home. Think about that: 40 years ago or so, 60 per cent of Aussies on low incomes own their own home. Today, that’s 28 per cent. That’s a big change for the worse. It means that our society is cleaving apart between people who own their own home and think they can own their own home, and people that think they’re going to rent for the rest of their life. I met a person like that here on the Central Coast last year. Her name’s Angela, she works at a local canteen at a local school. Her husband, Aaron, is a carpenter. They’ve got three kids, they want to buy a house, they’re renting at the moment, the sort of house that they want, about 900 grand, the bank won’t lend them that much because they don’t earn enough. But the bank said they’ll give them $500,000 or $600,000. A scheme like this can make all the difference. Lydia told her told us her story here today, you know, her and her boyfriend paying a lot of money in rent here at the moment over 500 bucks. The more money you pay in rent, the less money you’ve got left over to be able to save a deposit. But when you’re on a really modest income, and they’re earning less than 100 grand all up, when you knock on the door of the bank, and you say you want a mortgage for $900,000, you get knocked back because you don’t have the income to pay it off. So a scheme like this helps because you get to live in a home that you own with a smaller deposit, a smaller mortgage and smaller mortgage payments. And that’s why this has been backed, as Albo said, by everybody from the Master Builders to the Property Council, to the UDIA, to the HIA to the Grattan Institute, to ACOSS, the CHIA, the National Shelter, it’s even been backed by the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party are doing this right now. They’ve been doing it in WA for years. You know, this is bipartisan in WA, Labor governments and Liberal governments have been doing this and making a difference to people’s lives for years. The Government is doing this in Tasmania, before Premier Gutwein retired in February he announced that they’re going to do this and we’re adopting a similar model to them. We’re providing 40 per cent equity if you build a new home to create extra incentive to build rather than just buy, and as Albo said, Premier Perrottet has flagged it here. Have a look at the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald on the day of the by-elections back I think on the 12th of February. This will be in their Budget in June. Even Scott Morrison has backed this. You saw that video that went viral last night where he was calling on the government back in the Rudd days to do this, but not just that. He’s been admiring and supporting what the Victorian Government’s been doing for years here. And now on the eve of an election, he’s doing a backflip. Well, Scott Morrison instead of doing a backflip worthy of Nadia Comaneci, you should be backing hard working Aussies who want to own their own home. People like Lydia, people like Angela that I talked about before. And that’s what we’ll do, if we win your trust and win the vote this election.
JOURNALIST: It is obvious there will be multiple interest rate rises over the coming months. Westpac by May next year I think say it will be 2 per cent on an average mortgage of $500,000, that’s about 500 extra a month in extra payments, does your cost of living package factor in those interest rate hikes over the next 12 months? And will it be effective in that case to put downward pressure on prices?
ALBANESE: Well, what we know is that there’s about 3.4 million Australians that have mortgages at the moment. And we know that the average new mortgage is around about $595,000. A quarter per cent increase, which is one of the possibilities being speculated about today, will increase payments by $124 a month. What that does, is it just shows the need for a whole of government approach. This Government isn’t even trying to address cost of living pressures. We have a plan for cheaper childcare. Yeah, Lydia and her partner if they’re if they’re planning to, to start a family at some time down the track. Families want that security. They need to know about where they’re going to live. They need to know about the costs of childcare and factor all of that in. Jodie’s here with me today, she grew up, spent the first half dozen years of her life, just a couple of blocks away. A couple of streets away in Wall Street, you would have come here on the way. Now her brother and partner, they’ve got a little two year old, they’ve just moved up to Umina, they found it difficult, they’re not buying because they can’t afford to at this point in time, but they’ve found it difficult to find a place to rent that they could afford. These are real issues out there. Which is why we have practical plans. This is a practical plan, like cheaper childcare, cheaper electricity bills, $275 a year off your electricity bill by 2025. These are all measures aimed at, aimed at, making life better for people because we can do better.
JOURNALIST: But will those savings from the cost of living packages, things like electricity, childcare, be eaten up by any sort of interest rate rises?
ALBANESE: Well, what, what we know is that interest rate rises will put more pressure on families. We know that that’s the case. And we know that Scott Morrison has failed on increasing wages. We know that low wages is a key feature of their economic architecture. It’s a design feature. It’s not bad luck. It’s bad policy to have low wage growth. We have high inflation and potentially increasing interest rates. Now that will put more pressure on families, what’s the Government’s response, have a look at their whole campaign. It implies that things are easy right now. Well, for Lydia, and her partner here, struggling to get by in terms of paying a mortgage, Lydia told us inside she’s a social work student, she was going to have to have three months’ practical placement last year as part of her honours degree at the Ourimbah campus of Newcastle Uni. These are practical issues that people are dealing with. Now government, government needs to try to lend a hand where it can, we’re putting forward practical measures, this is just one of them.
JOURNALIST: A couple of things Mr Albanese. So, Scott Morrison said yesterday that interest rates aren’t political, I want to get your view on that. Secondly, he says that your equity sharing scheme will operate in a way that if the, the principal owner passes on, hands that down to their children, their children either above the income threshold or can’t meet the repayments, they’ll need to sell the house, which makes it an effective death tax?
ALBANESE: He’s getting desperate, isn’t he Mark? That’s what that stat shows. This is a Prime Minister who is getting really, really desperate. And the comments are getting more and more extreme, for this guy to say that anything is not political. This is a guy who gets up in the morning and what he has for breakfast is political. This is a guy who when he was in The Lodge, with quarantining, didn’t take his economic policy adviser. He didn’t take his national security adviser, he took his photographer, he took his photographer. Everything that this guy does is political. From day to day. It’s never about the national interest. And nothing is more exposed to that by his opposition to this scheme, this is what he had to say. Just a few quotes: “Kevin Rudd and the Treasurer should now move to invest in shared equity.” He went on to say: “Shared equity is a really good opportunity. We need more options. It is a good suggestion.” About the Victorian scheme: he said, he said “and the Government will also promote” this is in an address to ACOSS, an address to ACOSS as the Treasurer of Australia, “and the Government will also promote rent to buy and shared equity schemes to support low income Australians own a home”. I mean, this guy, you know, when we see a good idea, if it comes from someone else, we say yep, sure, that’s a good idea, we should do that, we adopt it. This guy for everything is an opportunity to play politics. He doesn’t have legislation. He has wedge-islation. They sit around the Cabinet, they don’t think about the national interest. They think about how can we wedge Labor on this issue? How can we wedge Labor? Everything this guy does.
CLARE: I reckon in that Cabinet room there is sour cream and sweet chili sauce there, there’s so many wedges there. You remember that scene in Happy Days where Fonzie jumps the shark? This is Scott Morrison, now. You know, this is more, this is more baloney than a New York deli. What we’re doing here is helping Australians to pass on their wealth to their kids, rather than passing on nothing because they’re renting for the rest of their life. My grandfather rented all his life, never owned a home. When he died, he died in intensive care. And he was in intensive care for three weeks. Now, the only reason we had enough money for the coffin and for the funeral was because he was in intensive care for three weeks and his pension accumulated and the money was there. This is serious. This is good policy that helps people who would otherwise be renting to own their own home, and to be able to pass that on to their kids. And it works in a sensible, practical way. When you pass it on to your kids, if they qualify under the eligibility rules, everything’s sweet, nothing changes. If they earn more than that, then they start to pay back the government’s equity. That’s the way it works in the Victorian model. It’s the way it works. If you go from earning 90 grand to 100 grand or 150 grand, there’s a two-year grace period, then you start to pay it back. You know this is, this is sensible. This is about helping Australians who need a little bit of help.
JOURNALIST: How will they start paying it back? Can you explain how that child or whoever in that circumstance, how long, I know it’s probably case by case?
CLARE: Yeah, you’re right, Sarah. Yeah. And it is case by case, it depends on person’s income and their capacity to pay. So they talked to the bank about that. But interestingly, in Victoria, you know, they have been running this scheme now, for a while. I was talking to the Victorian Government about this the other day, they told me that one in six people who’ve signed up to the scheme have already paid the government out and bought it out. Of course, Aussies want to own their home outright, they don’t want to rent for the rest of their life. This is about making that dream a reality. And, you know, the thing that really gets me here is the hypocrisy of all of this. Albo read out those quotes. You know, Scott Morrison has been banging the drum for this for years. Hang on a sec, whoa, hold your horses –
JOURNALIST: I think the Government was trying to say that Morrison was talking about private companies or something, they’ve been trying to defend on that, you know, can you kind of address that?
CLARE: Sure. There’s different types of shared equity. And he was talking about that then, but he’s been talking about government equity as well. Where’s that quote that Albo, right, for 2017: He’s the Treasurer of Australia, the Victorian Government have just announced this, if he really thinks this is a bad idea you’d expect him to say it then. He says “and the third thing they’ve done, which I think is really interesting, is shared ownership idea where the government owns a quarter of your house, and you own the other 75 per cent, which means you don’t need as big a deposit, now taken together, good on them for having a crack at this”. Two days later, Michael Sukkar, the Housing Minister on the ABC says “the Treasurer” – that’s Scott Morrison – is on the record in highlighting his “admiration” for the scheme. And then a couple of months later, he’s talking to ACOSS, saying that he’s promoting this as an idea. You know, that’s just rank hypocrisy. Was he lying then? Or is he lying now? I think Australians have had a gutful of all of this.
ALBANESE: Johnno, Johnno has been polite and put up his hand. And I’ve said I’d reward politeness. Johnno? Well, we’ll do it in an orderly way.
JOURNALIST: You’ve said that this is a cost of living crisis under Scott Morrison. But if interest rates rise repeatedly over the next few weeks, would there not be a cost of living crisis under you? Do you accept that if you are elected Australians will be paying more on their mortgage?
ALBANESE: Well, the Reserve Bank have said that they expect interest rates to increase. And that will occur regardless of who is in government. The question, no, the question here is that, the question here is the whole range of factors that impact on people’s cost of living, their ins and their outs, their income and their expenditure. What this Government is doing is doing nothing, nothing to increase people’s income in terms of wages, they’re also doing nothing in terms of reducing the costs of living across a range of areas in –
JOURNALIST: Interest rates –
ALBANESE: You then don’t get all of them, childcare, you then don’t get –
JOURNALIST: You’ve said under Scott Morrison there’s a triple whammy –
JOURNALIST: if interest rates rise today –
ALBANESE: No, I haven’t said interest rates will rise today. I’ve said the Reserve Bank are responsible.
JOURNALIST: it will be a triple whammy under Scott Morrison.
ALBANESE: It is just, that is just a fact.
JOURNALIST: Under your watch, there wouldn’t have been a whammy if interest rates rise?
ALBANESE: Under our watch, what we have is a plan to reduce costs for working families.
JOURNALIST: In relation to electric cars, imagine a future where you don’t have to worry about petrol excise. What can you do to make up the cost of the revenue or all the excise the government wouldn’t be getting if people aren’t paying the road usage surcharge?
ALBANESE: No, of course Paul Fletcher initiated a review, as the Minister, of a road user charge. The government did that. I was Transport Minister, I didn’t have any reviews of that, that was Paul Fletcher’s policy. Just here, yeah, sure.
JOURNALIST: Just on affordable housing, wouldn’t a fair way of dealing with it be for people like you Mr Albanese, who own three or four properties, to sell two to create a bigger pool of housing that could lower prices? At the moment you and others are getting tax breaks on?
CLARE: Yeah, sure, but Albo can supplement. But this is not about one individual, right. This is a structural thing that we’ve got to grapple here with – you ask about affordable housing. Which party in this election do you think is willing to build affordable housing for Aussies who need it? It’s the Labor Party. Which party is going to build social housing for Aussies who don’t have a roof over their head at the moment? It’s the Labor Party. We’re talking today about our plan to help Aussies to buy a home on modest incomes. But there’s another part of our housing plan as well. A $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund that will build 30,000 social and affordable homes for Aussies who need it in the first five years, hang on. Right. 10,000 of them, affordable homes below market rent for people like nurses and cleaners and ambos. The research shows that people who get up early in the morning and put a uniform on and go to work, the frontline workers who got us through the pandemic, on average, live further away from work than the average Aussie, right. Doing, doing, hang on a second, with all due respect, let me answer the question. This is, well, I think I did at the start, I think I did at the start, you’re good. If government, if government wants to make a difference here, you’ve got to show a bit of leadership, you’ve got to set up the sort of policies that are going to build more affordable housing for Australians. 10,000 in five years, 20,000 social housing homes in the course of the next five years for frontline workers, but also I gotta tell you, for women and kids fleeing domestic violence, I can’t press this issue enough, refuges are full to overflowing and people are staying longer than ever, because there isn’t enough permanent housing for them to go to. Okay, let me, let me go, okay, let’s, let’s go to supply directly and the boss’ll comment after me, right. This is the Gordian knot here that we need to undo, talk to the Property Council or the UDIA and the HIA, they’ll tell you the same thing. We’ve got to release more land, we’ve got to fix the planning systems. That’s why the announcement we made on the weekend was not just our Help to Buy plan, but a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council to set targets for states about the land that they release, to make sure that we’ve got accumulated data which is consistent, and reporting on a regular basis to National Cabinet. And not just that, if you pick up the phone after this press conference and talk to anybody that works in this sector, they’ll tell you that what they’ve been screaming out for is a national housing and homelessness plan. Hang on, hang on. Just hang on a second, the sentence isn’t finished. If we win this election, not just will we do Help to Buy, not just will we keep what the Government is already doing, not just we will we build more social and affordable housing, not just where we set up that supply council, but we will develop and implement a national housing and homelessness plan. And Scott Morrison will never do that.
ALBANESE: Hang on, hang on, one question at a time. Well, well, if you stop, then there will be a chance to have an answer. That’s the way it works. You get a question, then you get an answer in an orderly way.
JOURNALIST: I’m gonna ask another one –
ALBANESE: Hang on, you’ve got the call.
JOURNALIST: So the question, wouldn’t there be a fair way of dealing with people –
ALBANESE: I heard the question, you yelled it a number of times. Can I make this point? That yes, I have a home I live in in Sydney and one in Canberra and I have an investment property. This policy is not about any individual, isn’t about any individual. What it’s about is actually a part of our entire program in terms of assisting housing policy in this country. Remember, that the Government forgot to appoint a Housing Minister, I know that when Jason I appointed as housing, housing Shadow Minister, I said I wanted it to be one of the priorities that I had, as Labor leader, to come to the election in areas like childcare, aged care and housing, I identified as three big gaps. Since then we’ve announced a policy for public housing, a policy for affordable housing for essential workers, a policy for emergency housing. And now this Help to Buy program with a housing supply and affordability council, the creation of a Housing Australia structure to drive this change through, it’s a comprehensive plan that we have. It’s about providing assistance to people.
JOURNALIST: If you disagree with Scott Morrison’s comments that this is not about politics, will you take responsibility for the rate rises if you are elected?
ALBANESE: Well, the Reserve Bank have made their position very clear. They’ve said that they expected for there to be rate rises. The problem here is the context of Scott Morrison saying two things: one, that ah you know, nothing to do with politics because that, that from him is just quite frankly, just an extraordinary comment. And secondly, the fact that people are doing it really tough. Wages are going down at the same time as inflation is going up. And interest rates potentially could rise as well.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, on the cost of living. We still haven’t heard a specific figure how much better off will people be, and also and sorry, you fall back to childcare? What do people who don’t have children or how do they tackle the cost of living under your policy? And then just want a follow up for Jason on thresholds. 950,000 is the Sydney threshold, the house we’re here today, in East Gosford the median house price is 950,000, does the threshold need to be higher so people can actually buy into the market?
ALBANESE: Thanks. On the first question, here, they pay electricity bills, we have a plan for cheaper electricity. Here, we also have a plan whereby putting downward pressure on wages won’t be a key feature of our economic architecture, we recognise that we need to do something about wages as well. So it’s a matter of your inputs and your outputs. With regard to properties, there are currently 66 properties on Domain in the Gosford area for sale under $950,000, right now.
JOURNALIST: On AGL and Mike Cannon-Brookes, his attempts to disrupt the demerger operation, would you look to stand in the way of a faster transition to renewables led by AGL, as Mike Cannon-Brookes envisages, given it requires the closure of coal plants earlier than planned? And what excuse, what does it say about the state of politics, when it takes a tech billionaire to show leadership on climate change and reducing emissions?
ALBANESE: Well, we’ve got our plan. It’s a plan I’ve discussed pretty broadly here. But also with the business community, our plan for Powering Australia will make a difference in reducing emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, it’ll create 604,000 new jobs, it will reduce power prices by $275, it has been fully modelled by RepuTex. The other thing it will do is create $52 billion of private sector investment on top of the government equity contribution to fix transmission through our Powering the Nation plan. Through our Powering the Nation plan –
ALBANESE: We’re not going to comment in the middle of a commercial, commercial process. Hamish, Hamish is being polite.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister says he’s been involved in delivering eight budgets and that you’ve never been involved in delivering one. These are incredibly uncertain economic times, are you up to the job of steering the economy?
ALBANESE: I’m absolutely up to the job and so is my entire team. And I’ll make this point as part of that rhetorical position, Scott Morrison says that being Infrastructure Minister isn’t an economic portfolio. I outlined –
JOURNALIST: But are you more qualified than him to do this?
ALBANESE: We had a circumstance whereby we have a Prime Minister, we have a Prime Minister who doesn’t actually have a plan. This is a Prime Minister, who was elected in 2019, promising not too much, but he did promise some things. And he hasn’t delivered them. Today, on the issue of a national integrity commission, today you’ve had an ICAC Commissioner come out and slam the Prime Minister for his outrageous comments about a kangaroo court. They are quite extraordinary comments that he made and he’s been rebuked by a member, a member of the judiciary. Scott Morrison has presided over a circumstance whereby our debt had doubled before the pandemic, where circumstances whereby we’ve had increased debt, increased government spending, and increased taxation as a proportion of GDP. This is a Prime Minister, whose economic record we’re quite happy to debate on, because we have a plan to go forward. We outlined that again, in our campaign launch in Perth. I have more than 25 years’ experience in the Parliament. I will lead the most experienced incoming Labor government in our history since Federation, and we’re ready. We’re ready to govern, and this government, this government, out of puff and out of time and out of ideas, and the fact that they have rejected this policy that they have advocated for more than a decade on shared equity, with our Help to Buy scheme, is just extraordinary.
JOURNALIST: On National Cabinet, if you’re PM in a few weeks, what are you going to do to that, will you dismantle it, do you want to return to COAG? What are you gonna do about that?
ALBANESE: One of the first things that I will do, and I’ve said this to various Premiers, is to convene a meeting with all the State Premiers and Chief Ministers and talk about how we move forward. I will involve also local government in that process. And that’s our policy.
JOURNALIST: You didn’t answer the question earlier on how much better will families be better off under a Labor government, but also on remedying the gender pay gap? Have you got targets in place? How long will it take if an Albanese Government is in place for there to there to change?
ALBANESE: Well, we know the gender pay gap is currently 13.8 per cent. And what we know is that only one political party is going to the election saying that they think that’s an issue.
JOURNALIST: My question on supply, this housing supply has come up a couple of times here during the press conference. Now, first of all, do you accept the economic criticism of your current policy and of the government’s policy that they are actually going to have the effect of pushing up prices because they create those incentives for people that fear to bid higher on the property price? That’s one aspect of it –
CLARE: You want me to do that, then I’ll come back to you for the second David, I’m happy to do that if you like, yeah, yes. So on that point, have a look at what Brendan Coates from the Grattan Institute told ABC this morning. He made the point that he doesn’t think that’s right. And he’s done more work on this than I think anyone else in Australia over the course of the last 12 months. Incidentally, he made the point that he thinks the existing government schemes, the guarantee schemes, probably have a bigger impact on price than this. And he thinks that’s small, that’s small, you know, where are the big drivers here? Probably goes to your second question around supply. So I’ll let you go on to that.
JOURNALIST: Your plan is basically to set up a supply council. So you’re going to review the issues of supply. But you’ve both been around a long time. So you know that these issues have come up over many years. And I’m very interested in, Mr Albanese, whether the states need to release more land. Whether, for instance, following up on the previous question, in National Cabinet, you’ll be saying that the Premiers, Sydney needs to release more land Melbourne needs to release more land, you’ve got to make it easier for those homes to be built in our areas or even in regional areas. What’s the plan?
CLARE: All right, well, maybe I’ll just make a few comments. You don’t get this done through bullying and berating and blaming the states. And that’s all we’ve seen from this Government over the course of the last few years, you know, go back and Google Scott Morrison or Michael Sukkar on this, and all they do is blame the states. The states are critical here. So are local government, and you’ve got to do it by cooperation and by coordination, you would be amazed, but it’s true, that the Housing Minister doesn’t meet with the other housing and planning ministers around the country at the moment. If you’re going to fix this, I called it a Gordian knot, you know, this is hard. But if you’re going to fix this, release more land, improve planning rules around the country to tackle this issue, then you start with getting state governments, federal governments and local governments to work together. That’s what this council will do. That’s why in particular, you’ve seen this idea backed by the Property Council, the UDIA and the HIA. They’ve been screaming out for this for years. And if we win, we’ll do it.
ALBANESE: Just a couple more, just a couple more.
JOURNALIST: Are you arguing the Prime Ministers simply don’t have any influence over interest rates or are there levers you would pull as Prime Minister try and keep the interest rates lower than they otherwise would? And just back to the question over here as well. Why was negative gearing and capital gains tax rates a bad idea in 2019 and a good idea in 2022?
ALBANESE: Well, we’ve found a better idea, a range of them, including this one today, including our Housing Australia Future Fund, including our comprehensive plan on housing. I said, when I became Labor Leader in 2019, that we would after policies had been put to an election, the policies that we take to an election are the ones that I announce. That’s why I’ve announced this one.
JOURNALIST: On negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions, which was Labor’s proposal in the last election campaign. Basically, you pursued that partly to raise revenue and partly to stop or try and curb this phenomenon of first homeowners bidding in auctions against property investors. So what does, you know, that that’s a significant issue? So what does the current housing policy do to ameliorate that phenomenon? And if Jason’s got a minute, just picking up from David’s question which I also asked him in Brisbane, what has the Labor Party done by way of analysis to work out what the likely impact this policy is on housing prices?
ALBANESE: Okay, good. I’ll get Jason to answer his question, and then we’ll just take one more. In terms of our policy, we have made it very clear now that we have a comprehensive plan to assist people to buy. We also have a comprehensive plan to increase supply through social housing, to have affordable housing for essential workers. We also have a plan in terms of emergency housing, $100 million to assist women and children escaping domestic violence. This is a suite of measures, which taken together will take pressure off people who are struggling with housing. That is what we have put together. We’ve announced it in a considered, costed serious way going forward. And I think that it represents a comprehensive plan and stands in stark contrast to a government which is now rejecting this plan that they’ve advocated for so long.
JOURNALIST: Mr Albanese, you didn’t answer the question about the petrol excise –
CLARE: Hang on a sec, James. I’ll just answer this, it won’t take two secs. So it’s been costed by the PBO. The answer to your question around the impact on prices has been that work has been done by the Grattan Institute. So Katharine, I’d recommend you have a look at the paper that was published by the Grattan Institute recently.
JOURNALIST: On the petrol excise, what would you do?
ALBANESE: One here, one here, and then I’ll finish with that.
JOURNALIST: Just a local health question.
JOURNALIST: Two urgent Medicare clinics were announced for the Coast yesterday. As you know, the region is crying out for GPs, they’re saying they’re in crisis. But they’re also saying that they’d rather see more expenditure on general practice overall, rather than just another layer of red tape and, and healthcare. What’s your response to that?
ALBANESE: Well, this is about giving people access through urgent care clinics in Gosford and Wyong. And this is an area where it has a lot of families, and when a kid gets, gets injured on a skateboard or what have you, instead of ending up in the emergency department, at Wyong Hospital, waiting for, waiting for care or taking up places, and to get that, that support, having an urgent care clinic will take pressure off emergency departments, will work in conjunction with existing GP clinics and community health centers. It’s a practical plan. And I and this guy here knows a little bit about health care in, well both of them do actually know a lot about health care. So I’ll give them an opportunity to talk locally about that.
REID: Absolutely. So the urgent care clinics that we announced yesterday, and now, now I’m talking as a doctor, are an absolutely fantastic idea. They’re designed to take pressure off emergency departments, and take pressure off our general practitioners. They give people another avenue of care, which is a tried and tested care model overseas, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, those countries use urgent care centers, and they work. It’s for urgent medical care, not emergent medical care. And I think that this, this policy, with two urgent care clinic centers here on the Coast, one in the north and one in the south, will only be beneficial for our local health services.
ALBANESE: And on your question, just finally –
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask the question –
ALBANESE: Well, you have asked a question.
JOURNALIST: What would you do to replace the massive revenue from federal excise rates if everyone’s driving electric vehicles. And you want to drive up the usage of electric vehicles significantly over the next decade, the same time as reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering power prices. How will you do all three?
ALBANESE: You know quite well, James, that in this country, what we don’t have is a whole lot of hypothecated taxes. That’s not the way our system works. And that’s not the way the system works. Paul Fletcher announced a review into these issues in conjunction with states and territories. I’m not sure where that review went, like so many things with this Government, they announce reviews, and then nothing happens. They announce reviews in order to avoid announcing extra policies. Thanks very much.
JOURNALIST: Why don’t you answer my question?
ALBANESE: Oh, sorry. You didn’t get one. Did you? Yeah. Sorry. He didn’t get one. No, no, he didn’t get one?
JOURNALIST: So is it true that the Help to Buy scheme, you’re going to have to borrow $7 billion over the next four years to pay for the scheme? If that’s correct, why wasn’t that there when you announced it?
CLARE: This is, this is an investment, not a cost. If you’re going to invest in 10,000 homes a year over four years, you borrow that, you invest in it, but you know what the good thing, and the cost of the Budget, as I said, I think a moment ago, or maybe I didn’t mention it in this press conference, is $329 million. I know that the Liberal Party campaign headquarters have been throwing some questions at you. So that was one of them. Maybe I should answer that one here as well. That is the interest that you pay on the money you borrow here. But if you own a home, and hopefully a lot of us here do, you know it’s a good investment, it’s a good long term investment. You make money over time. We can do that here too. Where these schemes have been set up in WA and in the UK, the taxpayer makes money. So we do two things here. We help people like Lydia and Angela that I talked about before, to live in a home that they own rather than renting for the rest of their life. And we make money for taxpayers as well. That’s a win / win.
ALBANESE: Yeah. Just on this point, I’ve seen some of the spin from the government that says, both says it’s a cost but then says the government are gonna make money. I just say to them settle on what your spin is and stick to one line.
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