Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Assistant Treasurer
Minister for Housing
Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing
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Transcript – Sky News First Edition with Peter Stefanovic



The Hon Michael Sukkar MP

Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing and Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing

Member for Deakin

Transcript

Monday, 18 April 2022

Sky News First Edition with Peter Stefanovic

Topics: Home Guarantee Scheme and price cap expansion, housing market, 2022 Federal election.

Peter Stefanovic:

On the subject of housing, the Coalition is pledging to raise the price caps for houses eligible under the Home Guarantee Scheme to help homebuyers get into the property market. Joining us live now is the housing minister, Michael Sukkar. Minister, good to see you. Thanks for your time. So why increase the cap?

Minister Michael Sukkar:

Well, a couple of reasons, Pete. Obviously, we increase the caps every financial year. That takes into account fluctuations in the market. This scheme has been in place now for three years. We increase the caps each and every financial year so in that respect, it’s ordinary.  But also, it takes into account the massive expansion of this program that we announced in the Budget. An extraordinarily popular and successful program that we’ve now increased to 50,000 places a year so it’s going to accommodate and support even more first home buyers or single parents who are able to also utilise the scheme. In accordance with that massive expansion in the program, we thought it was appropriate to put in place generous house price cap increases, also to accommodate families who are utilising this scheme, families who are obviously purchasing larger family homes who require that cap to be higher. Obviously accommodating the market movements but also reflecting this massive expansion of the Home Guarantee Scheme that we announced in the Budget.

Peter Stefanovic:

Just zeroing in on Sydney and Melbourne though. So, the cap has been increased in Sydney and the regional areas to $900,000 and Melbourne and regional areas to $800,000. The likelihood of getting a place in the cities for that sum, is pretty unlikely, isn’t it?

Minister Sukkar:

Well, Pete, we’ve put in place this program with always modest house price caps. That’s been the case from the beginning and at every single time that we release a tranche of home guarantees, they get taken up very quickly. So, there are clearly thousands, in fact 60,000 people who have been able to find homes utilising the relatively lower house price caps that have been in place. We’re very confident that there will be people who are able to utilise the scheme with these more generous house price caps. They’re not the median house price in those capital city areas, they’re set at a level that is modest. This is obviously significant government support for first home buyers who tend to be at that more modest first home price point of the market. But the reality is, Pete, every single tranche of home guarantees we’ve released have been snapped up very quickly so there are clearly people in every market around the country who are finding properties within the house price caps and there’ll be even more now who can find them within these higher price caps.

Peter Stefanovic:

Let’s go with where you are though. I mean where are you getting a place in Melbourne for $800,000?

Minister Sukkar:

Well, Pete, you and your viewers can get online and do the searchers. There are many areas of Melbourne, particularly in our outer suburban areas but also throughout Melbourne at the more modest levels including apartments or townhouses. We’ve never claimed that this program is going to enable people to buy the home that they may want to live in for the rest of their lives, that they might aspire to. But it’s going to be a program that helps first home buyers get that first home, get on that first rung of the property ladder. It’s also important that when we calibrate the scheme, Pete, because we’re providing that support, that we do it in a way that is responsible and that is ensuring that we’re supporting first home buyers make responsible financial decisions and not borrowing more than their capacity would otherwise entitle them to. We’ve calibrated the scheme very carefully and that’s why it’s been such a success to date.

Peter Stefanovic:

You mentioned last time, no one has defaulted yet which is good news but there’s been no interest rate rises and that’s been a huge factor in that. But several are coming so that may well mean that it’s out of reach for a lot of people who sign up to the scheme so has all of that been factored in?

Minister Sukkar:

Yeah, I think as we discussed last time, Pete, this isn’t a scheme where the government decides on your credit history and undertakes the credit checks. People are required to borrow from a bank and a bank will undertake all of the usual credit assessments.  That’s why the scheme has been so successful. We provide that guaranteed support that helps first home buyers, for example, purchase a home with a 5 per cent deposit as opposed to a 20 per cent deposit so they’re not only saving that deposit but also not having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on lenders mortgage insurance so they’re having that saving as well. But the credit assessment is undertaken by the bank who ultimately lends to them and that’s why the scheme has been so targeted and has been successful.

Peter Stefanovic:

Just a couple of questions here on polls, Minister. First of all, on Anthony Albanese. Is his campaign making your job easier at the moment?

Minister Sukkar:

Look, Pete, you’re in a better position to discuss polls than me. I think what we’ve seen from the opposition and the Opposition leader is just an inability to understand the Australian economy, no plan for the economy. We outlined in our Budget very detailed plan to secure the economic recovery, to continue to drive jobs growth, to provide cost-of-living relief to families which the opposition leader referred to as a cash splash. A very detailed plan to keep the foot on the economic accelerator and what Australians have seen from the Opposition Leader and the opposition is no economic plan, in fact very little interest or understanding of the Australian economy. That has come through very clearly and I think really highlights the substance of the issue for the Opposition Leader which is he pays no attention to the economy and has no plan for the economic future of Australia.

Peter Stefanovic:

Things perhaps don’t seem rosy in the seat of Kooyong though. A poll overnight, commissioned by his rival, claims Josh Frydenberg’s primary vote has slumped to 35 per cent while Dr Monique Ryan has a two-party preferred lead. Is the Treasurer in danger of losing his seat, Minister?

Minister Sukkar:

Well, the Treasurer is working very hard for Australia and very hard for his constituents in Kooyong.  He doesn’t take any vote for granted. He will work had for every single vote. I think what Australians and what residents of Kooyong have seen is someone who’s work around the clock and worked tirelessly to deliver the remarkable economic recovery that Australia has seen. Along with the Prime Minister, no one takes more credit for that than Josh Frydenberg. Notwithstanding that, he doesn’t take anything for granted. He’s working very hard to secure the support and trust of the residents of Kooyong who have provided him that at successive elections. So, he’ll keep working hard fighting for every vote and I’m confident that the residents of Kooyong will continue to support and back Josh because he’s not just important to them as a local member but his ability to steward Australia through these very difficult economic times is something that I know many Australians are grateful for.

Peter Stefanovic:

Do these numbers shock you though? That the independent has a two-party preferred lead over the current Treasurer?

Minister Sukkar:

Pete, again there are so many polls out there and polls that will say one story or another. I think the reality is Josh is working very hard for every single vote.  He doesn’t take any vote for granted. That’s all he can do, that’s all we can do as a government. We’re out there working hard every day trying to explain to Australians why with the instability in the world and the instability that is inherent in the economic recovery, that they need to continue to back the Coalition who is securing our recovery and there’s no one that’s more important to doing that than our Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg. In that vein, he’ll be out there fighting for every vote as well.

Peter Stefanovic:

Okay, Michael Sukkar, thanks for your time. Talk to you soon.