Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies his government’s housing policies will push up prices even after his superannuation minister said the proposed first home buyers plan could lead to an initial price bump.
But Labor leader Anthony Albanese says the scheme announced at the official Liberal campaign launch on Sunday is “desperation” and a “thought bubble”.
Mr Morrison said the scheme, which allows first home owners to access some of their super for a deposit, would work in combination with separate announcements to increase housing supply.
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Yet Superannuation Minister Jane Hume earlier said there would be an increase in house prices.
“I would imagine that there would be a lot of people that bring forward their decision to buy a house so I would imagine in the short term you might see a bump in house prices,” she told ABC Radio National on Monday.
“But that doesn’t play out the long term benefits of more home ownership, fewer people relying on rent.”
Mr Albanese said the prime minister’s proposal proved he just wanted to cut people’s super rather than address housing affordability.
“If you take super away from people, then you’ll have higher deficits and bills from the government in the future,” he told reporters in Perth on Monday.
“This is an attack on future savings, it’s an attack on future generations, it’s not about assisting people.”
More than two million Australians have already cast their votes ahead of Saturday’s federal election as Mr Morrison makes a last ditch effort to sway minds.
On Sunday he announced first home buyers would be able to access 40 per cent of their superannuation up to $50,000 to buy a house.
In addition, a re-elected coalition would expand a scheme to encourage older Australians to downsize and free up housing supply.
Campaigning in the Labor-held Queensland seat of Blair, Mr Morrison said anyone who opposed his housing plan doesn’t see superannuation as people’s own money.
“It’s (Australians’) money, we’re not going to tell them what to do with it, they’ll make their own decisions,” he said.
Mr Morrison’s housing policy will require home owners to return the initial super amount withdrawn plus an equivalent proportion of the capital gain or loss when they eventually sell the house.
But he dodged questions about what would happen if the housing market crashed and people needed to sell at a loss, losing their super investment simultaneously.
Mr Albanese said even senior Liberals had opposed the proposed superannuation policy in the past.
“The government in its desperation has come up with a thought bubble that according to itself has not been modelled (and) they have no idea what the impact will be,” he said.
“Minister Hume belled the cat, (she) has said that it will put upward pressure on housing prices.”
Labor’s housing alternative involves a “help to buy” scheme where 10,000 low income earners would be eligible for a government equity contribution to help enter the housing market.
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees said the coalition’s plan would drive up house prices and undermine the core purpose of the super system.
“Using super as a deposit will drive up property prices, leaving Australians with higher debt and depleted retirement savings,” the institute’s chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said.
“Superannuation … is not a piggy bank the government can open at its convenience to avoid dealing with the real systemic issues facing first home buyers.”
Meanwhile, Mr Albanese announced a jointly funded $150 million election commitment to build a surgery centre in Perth while campaigning alongside Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan.
The centre would have six new surgical theatres, two new procedure rooms, a 24 bed surgical ward and a new central sterilisation services department.
© AAP 2022