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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 8 Hansard (20 August) . . Page.. 2928 ..

MR QUINLAN (continuing):

It is usually at a time when Mr Howard is under pressure because of doubts about his truthfulness in relation to children overboard-or "truth overboard", as they call it-pre Iraq war intelligence, weapons of mass destruction or, more recently, ethanol.

Opposition members interjecting-

MR SPEAKER: Resume your seat, Treasurer. I am not going to put up with any more of this, and I want to warn people that from now on interjections are going to be dealt with rather swiftly. I have just about had enough. Mr Quinlan, please respond to the question.

MR QUINLAN: Thank you, Mr Speaker. If any member of the opposition believes at this moment that the housing industry is cost driven, then they are delusional. Look at the effect of the federal home owners grant, which was brought in by the federal government at a time when they were expecting a downturn. It did not happen; they got that wrong. These things happen.

However, it generated activity within the housing market, and immediately housing prices went up by $7,000 and $14,000 to compensate for it. What the first home owners grant did was equip first home owners with an earlier capacity for a deposit, but it did not affect the overall cost of housing at all. In fact, there is clear evidence that the first home owners grant accrued, and is still accruing to this day, to the sellers of houses.

The pressure in the housing market is a function of the pull forward that the federal government deliberately put in place: low interest rates and, therefore, increased disposable income in terms of purchase capacity; and the flight from paper investment because people are concerned about stock markets.

Any talk of stamp duty, at whatever level, affecting the cost of housing and housing affordability presumes that the cost of housing on the market today is cost driven. Well, that is simply not so. As I said, it is market driven, and anyone who believes that it is not is delusional. This is one of the little hand grenades that Mr Howard throws in, and I am amazed at how the Australian media slavishly pick up these things without taking to them with a little op-ed comment from time to time.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms MacDonald?

MS MacDONALD: Thank you, Mr Speaker. Thank you, Treasurer, for that informative answer. Can you advise the Assembly if you will be considering a reduction in stamp duty?

MR QUINLAN: Thank you, Ms MacDonald.

Mr Cornwell: On a point of order, Mr Speaker: is this a statement of policy? If so, it is out of order.

MR SPEAKER: Could you repeat the question, please?

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