Page 3241 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 17 September 2013

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implications for first home owners in the ACT. Here we have it in the government’s own words in the explanatory statement for this bill:

As an unintended consequence of retargeting the FHOG to only new or substantially renovated properties, access to the Duty Deferral Scheme to first home buyers who purchase an established property is removed.

You would think that the government would look to address unintended consequences like this as a first principle to get right when the bill was originally drafted. I thank the minister for the briefing. Officials briefed my staff and me a couple of days ago. I asked the question: did we have more up-to-date data on how many of those who got the first home owner grant when it was covering established homes? For the information of members, in the 2011-12 financial year there were 2,775 grants made. For established homes it was 1,821 grants and for newly constructed homes, it was 954. So 65 per cent of the grants paid in 2011-12 went on established homes.

In 2012-13, the financial year just finished, there were 3,037 grants made. For established homes there were 1,887 grants and newly constructed homes, 1,150 grants. Again, more than 60 per cent of the applications were for established homes. So it will be interesting to see the long-term effect of these government changes and we have warned about that.

That said, the Canberra Liberals will be supporting the bill. As outlined by the explanatory statement, this is a machinery of government bill and makes technical amendments. Given that the amendments will be taken to have commenced on 1 September 2013, we will also follow closely something that implements the retrospective activity of this bill.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (11.43): As has been explained, this is a very straightforward bill that keeps the status quo rather than making any policy changes. Given the circumstances, the Greens will be supporting the bill to maintain the current scheme. However, there are a couple of points that I would like to raise. Firstly, tying the scheme to the first home owner grant has brought about the need for the bill. Given that there are real question marks about the efficacy of the first home owner grant, one does have to question the wisdom in continuing the existing arrangements rather than taking the opportunity to assess the options for improvements.

Secondly, and more generally, is the issue of the way the various housing mechanisms work together. Attempting to have a coordinated approach that links the different programs is in principle the best way to tackle the issue. However, the problem of tying other schemes to one that is considered to not meet its objectives is obvious. One can legitimately ask whether someone buying a $750,000 house should be entitled to defer their stamp duty liability. There should be measures in place to assist targeted groups of people through the housing continuum. Just how far housing assistance should extend is a matter, I think, for considerable debate.

In previous debates the Greens have made it very clear that we do not support providing assistance to those who can afford to spend $750,000 on a house. Our view is that money would be better spent providing assistance to those who need it most.

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