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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 30 October 2018) . . Page.. 4441 ..

Stamp duty is a very significant hurdle for many Canberrans and can add tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of home purchase, and that is why we have been focused on cutting stamp duty in every ACT budget since 2012. We will continue to do so, and by 2021 someone buying a half million dollar home in Canberra will be paying half the amount of stamp duty that they would have been if the reform had not been undertaken.

We are, however, acting further and moving faster on stamp duty reductions, and from 1 July 2019 all first home buyers with a household income under $160,000 will pay no stamp duty at all. At the same time, we are abolishing the first home owner grants and redirecting all that funding into the full abolition of stamp duty for those with a household income under $160,000. These changes will help housing affordability and follow on from other reforms that we have introduced.

We are particularly focused on using incentives within the tax system to encourage those who have vacant homes to put them on the market for rental, and that is why we have made changes to land tax to encourage property investors to make their properties available for rent. As our economy grows, we can better target support for people in different stages of their lives. This also includes help for people looking to downsize to more suitable accommodation and provides support for Canberrans who have long-term and permanent disability. We are also helping Canberrans who are experiencing short-term mortgage stress due to unforeseen circumstances.

I think it is important that we continue to advocate for national action on negative gearing and capital gains tax policy reform as this will assist in seeing the direction of housing policy aligned both at a territory level and nationally. It is fundamentally important that both levels of government are pushing in the one direction if we are going to make a meaningful impact on housing affordability. So much of this debate is conducted in a way that some argue for an improvement in housing affordability but argue against houses being cheaper. Those two are mutually exclusive, and we are going to see the mother of all scare campaigns between now and the federal election in relation to changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax.

We have seen the Master Builders Association model a series of policies that are not actually the policies that have been put forward by federal Labor and try to claim that this will lead to a contraction in housing supply. This was comprehensively debunked by the Grattan Institute in their report, and the comments of John Daley on ABC radio Canberra yesterday, I think, should put an end to any debate. The Master Builders Association nationally should be embarrassed by what they have put into the public arena, and the fact that it has only been promulgated in the national media by the Australian newspaper tells you something about just how baseless this scare campaign is.

What is fundamentally important to improving the supply of housing at all levels of the housing market is for there to be alignment in policy direction between state and territory governments and the commonwealth. Part of that is the reform of negative gearing and capital gains tax, and that will greatly assist the Australian housing market to respond to the supply-side efforts of state and territory governments.

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