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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1543 ..

MR CORNWELL (continuing):

The chances of you ever owning a property, I would suggest, are not very great. Therefore, you will be passing your mortgage on to the next person, who I presume will purchase the property from you. I do not say that in criticism of this legislation. Everybody needs to have an opportunity to start. I do not believe that people starting with the first home owners scheme will necessarily finish it any more than many other people will. The days of owning your own home in Sydney and Melbourne-and perhaps it will spread to Canberra and to other capitals-are rapidly disappearing.

It does not, however, have to be a disaster. Younger people these days have other priorities. They do not necessarily see the ownership of a house as being of the same importance as their parents or perhaps their grandparents did. I simply raise the matter to indicate that we need to consider these issues when we are looking at funding of such legislation as this. We need to look at it in terms of society in general. Things will not necessarily remain the same. It is necessary for governments to be aware of such changes.

MR QUINLAN (Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Business and Tourism, Minister for Sport, Racing and Gaming and Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Corrections) (12.09), in reply: I thank members for their support of the bill. I wish I could look forward to this level of support for other legislation I am bringing forward. This bill is largely a piece of mechanics to enable us to administer the Commonwealth's extension of the first home owners scheme.

Since some comments have been made, I will make some of my own. About a year or so ago I was at a seminar conducted by one of the industry associations and addressed by a well-known economist who conceded that in large part the first home owners scheme may become only the vehicle to pull forward demand in the housing construction industry rather than being an overall benefit. In other words, there is a possibility of an equal and opposite decline in demand in the housing construction industry at some future time.

From the increases in the value of housing, the main beneficiary of this scheme has not necessarily been the first home owner but the seller to the first home owner, because house prices took a quantum leap and there was for some time quite a high degree of correlation between the level of increase and the amount of the grant.

I should not have been in a position to have to bring this bill forward. The last extension of the first home owners grant was a cynical electoral sweetener offered by the Howard government leading up to the last federal election. By the time that sweetener was brought forward, there had been increases in the market. The industry was fully occupied and remains so now. I want to do some modifications at my house and I just cannot find a builder who is interested. They say, "That is complicated. I don't need to do that."

The market is quite clearly distorted and there is the distinct prospect that, as a direct function of this, there will be a decline at a later date. Fortunately, not every home being constructed now is for a first home owner and not every existing home that is being sold is for a first home owner, so there is still a reasonably buoyant market without the first home owners.

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