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Question Time: Housing Affordability
Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (15:08): My question is to the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government’s plan for economic recovery is supporting jobs in Australia’s construction industry and helping to get more Australians into a home of their own?
Mr SUKKAR (Deakin—Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing) (15:09): I thank the member for Boothby for her question. She is a champion of first home buyers in her electorate and throughout the country, and she of course supports one of the most crucial industries in this country—the residential construction industry, which employs up to a million Australians.
Last night the Morrison government took another step, one of many steps we have taken, to support first home buyers getting into their first home and also to support, again, the million Australian men and women who work in the residential construction industry. The Treasurer announced formally last night that we are extending the wildly popular First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. This was an election commitment that we took to the election—
Mr Bowen interjecting—
Mr SUKKAR: I notice the member for McMahon mocking it. Yes, he did mock it when we announced the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. He mocked it originally. Since then, we’ve delivered on the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which allows Australians to get into their first home with a deposit of as little as five per cent. Everybody in this House should know that the biggest challenge for first home buyers is getting that deposit together—a deposit where banks are requiring increasingly at least a 20 per cent deposit. For the average home in Sydney, it’s taking up to 10 years to save that deposit; and, in Melbourne, up to eight years. The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is halving that time, and last night we announced an additional 10,000 places for this financial year, with one additional caveat—that is, that it is for the purchase of a new home because, in addition to supporting first home buyers, we want to continue to support the residential construction industry. An additional 10,000 homes will, therefore, be purchased this year, supporting those workers and also helping those people into a new home.
This comes on top of another very successful Morrison government initiative, the HomeBuilder scheme. The HomeBuilder scheme has seen builders around the country very publicly saying they’ve got a good problem that they’re dealing with, and that is that they’re struggling with the amount of work that is now coming in the door—struggling. I think that’s a very good problem to have in this environment. In fact, AKD Softwoods, a timber mill in Colac that stood down 51 workers in May because it was concerned about the residential construction industry, last week reopened, put all those 51 workers back on and increased its workforce by 25 people. AKD said: … the Federal Government’s Home Building Stimulus Package … announced in June was truly effective and created immediate … demand. This has resulted in new house construction activity levels remaining resiliently strong—