Michael Sukkar MP

Federal Member for Deakin
Shadow Minister for Social Services
Shadow Minister for the NDIS
Shadow Minister for Housing
Shadow Minister for Homelessness
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Matter of Public Importance: Housing

On Tuesday night, in the budget, what we saw from this government on housing was no new money, no new homes and no new ideas, just the same old Labor housing crisis. And we see today in question time this very self-satisfied group of frontbenchers talking about Labor being the champion of new homes. It’s inconvenient to remind the government that they have been in government for two years. What do we find from the ABS? We find that, under this government, the number of loans provided for the purchase or construction of new homes is the lowest since records have been kept, since 2002. In the last 22 years we have not seen a worse outcome for new homes then we have under this government. There are no new homes and no new money in the budget, and we see fewer homes being built than we have seen in at least 22 years—and, if the ABS had kept longer records, I suspect it would be for decades more than that. We have a failure at the hands of this government, with fewer homes being built.

What’s the one thing you wouldn’t do, as a government, if you had record low numbers of homes being built? From the collective wisdom around the cabinet table, what do you think is the one thing you probably would not do? You would not ramp up migration to the highest levels we have seen in our history. In the 18 months to December, under this government, we’ve seen 265,000 homes built. It’s important to mention that, among those 265,000 homes, there’s a portion—it’s hard to calculate, but it’s anywhere from 15 per cent to 25 per cent—that are not net increases in homes; they’re just knockdown rebuilds. It’s a new home, but it’s replacing an old one. There have been 265,000 homes built in the first 18 months of this government, and how many migrants do you think this government brought in over that period? About 900,000. Where on earth does the government think those people are going to live?

What do we see? We see vacancy rates now at lower than one per cent in some of our capital cities. What does that mean? We all see the videos that go around online of the people queueing up, around the block, when there’s an ‘open for inspection’ for a rental. What do we see? We see it becoming more and more difficult for people to find a rental in the suburbs in which they are living, especially for families with children at a local school. There are people in this country who just cannot find one and, devastatingly, end up homeless—and we’ve seen homelessness spike under this government—or who have to move a long way from where they’re established, where their children go to school and where their community is. What do we see from this government? We just see a group of ministers grinning and talking about how wonderfully well they’re doing with housing. Well, the truth is, as I said, we have fewer homes being built. We have first home buyers at their lowest level since the last time this mob was in government. They have completely waved the white flag on first home ownership. When I was the housing minister in the former coalition government, we got the number of first home buyers in a year up to 180,000. There were 180,000 first home buyers in 2021. It was not by accident; it was through programs like our Home Guarantee Scheme or the HomeBuilder program or the First Home Super Saver Scheme. What do we have them running at this year? This financial year thus far we are at 90,000 first home buyers, about half as many as under the former government. This government is failing on building homes, it is failing for renters and it is failing for new home buyers.

I have some bad news for the House and for Australians. If you think we are in a housing crisis now, if you think it is intolerable that you can’t get a rental, that your children may never face the prospect or have the opportunity of owning their own home, it is about to get worse. The latest housing approval data we have seen has approvals down even further. That means over the next 12 to 18 months, over the next two years, even fewer homes are going to be built. You will have fewer homes built over the next 18 months to two years. You have to take the government at their word when they say, ‘We are going to reverse our form from the last two years. We are going to reduce migration. We are going to have a stunning form reversal and we are now going to now reduce migration.’ Well, as the shadow minister quite rightly pointed out in government, let’s look at what they promise versus what they deliver.

In their first budget, the government only missed their forecast in migrants by a rounding error of 297,000 people, just 297,000 people out. There is nothing at all in the budget on Tuesday night that will give any Australian comfort that this mob even understand the problem. The truth is you have to accept that you have created a problem. You have to put your hand up and admit that you have caused untold damage to this country before you can get to fixing it, and we don’t see any of that from this government. We see nothing from this government. The only policies assisting first home buyers in this country are those policies that were put in place by the former government.

We see no new ideas from this government. What did they announce in the lead-up to be budget? They announced $11.3 billion of extra money. That was the announcement. That was what the media release said—$11.3 billion of extra money. What did we find out? Of the $11.3 billion of so-called extra money, $9.3 of it was to continue an agreement already in place for 15 years. So it is an agreement that has been in place for just a lazy 15 years that, through their good graces, they are going to renew and that is somehow new money.

Then we saw there was another billion dollars for the National Housing Finance Infrastructure Facility, a facility that I established and created as minister—a very worthy policy. But if you then look at the fine detail, the minister announced that money on 31 October last year. What forced her to do that? It was the dirty deal they did in the Senate with the crossbench. They are now trying to rehash old announcements, bundle them together, which, again, highlights that they do not get the problem. They do not appreciate they have created an unprecedented housing crisis in this country.

As a product of migrants, I love migration. I am a great beneficiary of it. But it has to be planned migration. You have to have an idea of where on earth the people will live, because we have a duty to the Australians who are here now. We have a duty to the people who live here now that they can get a roof over their heads. If you’re bringing in 900,000 migrants when there are only 265,000 homes being built, which does not even keep our head above water for our natural population increase, it is an absolute stain and a shame that this government will never live down, because they’re selling out the next generation of this country.

We will not wave the white flag on homeownership on this side of the House. On this side of the House we believe that every Australian should have the opportunity of homeownership, like generations before us. We are very proud of our policies to support those first home buyers. As I said, whether it’s helping people get a home with a deposit of as little as through the Home Guarantee Scheme or getting access to their own money in superannuation to buy their own home—because that is their money. If they choose to leave it in their superannuation, good luck to them. But they should have the choice to use that to supplement their savings for a deposit to get into a home. There’s a generation of Australians this government and this Labor Party have left behind. They want big corporates owning all the houses. They want lifelong renters. We want Australians who have that opportunity and we’ll fight for them. The Leader of the Opposition will be fighting for them tonight.

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