Page 3203 - Week 10 - Thursday, 15 August 2013

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MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (9.19): I thank Mr Rattenbury for perhaps the lightest moment of the entire week. If you actually merged the debate on the Legislative Assembly bill with this bill, you could see that this building has been substantially renovated and, if we could find someone to buy it, they would now get $12,500, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: And stamp duty.

MR SMYTH: And stamp duty. Yes, exactly.

On the serious side, we will not oppose the bill. We note the lift of the grant from $7,000 to $12,500 and the movement towards including the words “substantially renovated”. But that still excludes probably two-thirds of first homebuyers. The majority of first homebuyers purchase an existing home. What you are saying with this bill is that if you want the grant you have got to move away from your family: “If you are in Tuggeranong or Woden and you want the first home owner grant, you will go to where we say.” That is Molonglo, Gungahlin or outer Belconnen. We think that is a shame. The bill itself really says this to young families. Let’s face it: young families setting out, setting themselves up, normally want to be near the family resources—mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas—so that, as they set out, they remain in their community.

The support that is given through this bill is to the building community, and let’s face it: that is what the minister is on about. The minister said in the Canberra Times on 1 June 2013:

So what we’re trying to do here is to have that money assist first home owners, but chase new housing so that it provides a boost to the construction sector.

That also is a worthy thing. But if we are serious about helping first home owners, I think there is a case that simply says we need to leave them to choose where they want to be. What we should do is make sure that we are doing it for the right reason, that we actually assist people with their choice, that we allow them to remain in their community and that we allow them to make their decisions and not have a government telling them where they should live.

With that, let me say that we will not oppose the bill.

MR BARR (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Sport and Recreation, Minister for Tourism and Events and Minister for Community Services) (9.22), in reply: I thank Mr Rattenbury and Mr Smyth for their support, however reluctant, for this amendment. The government is committed to assisting first homebuyers in the territory, and the delivery of this change to the first home owner grant has allowed us to accelerate the phasing out of conveyance duty, because the money that is saved through the retargeting of the grant has been allocated towards further stamp duty concessions and cuts to stamp duty on all properties.

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