Builders urge ministers to back ‘Help to Buy’ housing scheme

By Jarrod
5 Min Read

In the midst of political turmoil, builders are urging Parliament to adopt “sensible housing policies” to boost the housing build pipeline.

The federal government’s ‘Help to Buy’ housing scheme made its way through the House of Representatives earlier this week following a debate on Wednesday.

The proposed initiative will allow first homebuyers to purchase a property with just a two per cent deposit, with the government contributing 40 per cent of the value of a home for a new property or 30 per cent for an existing one.

Master Builders CEO Denita Wawn said the construction industry was “strongly supportive” of the scheme, claiming the lower cost of entry to the residential market would bring a welcome boost to nations housing builds. 

“The Help to Buy scheme will be rolled out at the same time as the National Housing Accord, an initiative which includes the target of delivering 1.2 million new homes over the five years which has never been done before,” said Ms Wawn.

The organisation was, in fact, so supportive that they suggested the government increase their equity cap from 40 to 50 per cent to draw even more Aussies to the market. 

“Beating our industry’s ‘personal best’ can only be done against the backdrop of exceptionally favourable conditions for the residential building industry,” added Ms Wawn.

“Designing the scheme in this way will help divert demand towards new home building and mean that the Help to Buy scheme works to expand Australia’s stock of dwellings,” added Ms Wawn. 

A battle across the benches

However, not everyone is so easily convinced. The Greens have been very loudly opposed to the scheme since its announcement early last year, claiming that the equity boost would only inflate house prices even further when many are struggling to afford the cost of living. 

The party unsurprisingly voted against the proposal in the House of Representatives, with leader Adam Bandt calling for changes to negative gearing tax concessions in return for their support. 

“This housing and rental crisis is breaking people. Labor needs to wake up. Instead, Labor’s pushing up rents and house prices,” wrote Mr Bandt in a post on X following the debate.

Manager of Opposition Business in the House, Paul Fletcher, said Labor tried to “shut down” consideration on the bill, describing the scheme as “poorly targeted, badly designed and offers poor value for taxpers’ money”.

Opposition housing spokesman Michael Sukkar also hit out at the scheme, saying similar programs at a state level had not been successful.

“Schemes like this already exist throughout the country and have been rejected by Australians, with 94 per cent of places still available in the virtually identical New South Wales scheme,” he said.

“The only housing policies delivering support to first home buyers are the housing policies Labor inherited from the former Coalition Government.”

Independent MP Allegra Spender had her own reservations after her call to introduce amendments that would grant greater oversight to the shared equity scheme was voted down.

“While I support the intent of the scheme, I’m deeply uncomfortable providing any minister with this amount of public money,” she said.

“There’s so little in the way of oversight and accountability.”

Ms Wawn said Help to Buy was a “sensible policy” that would lift housing affordability pressures without taking a toll on the investment market. 

“We need to continue to develop policies that increase housing supply while also encouraging people into home ownership,” she said. 

“Policies such as negative gearing and CGT changes as being demanded by the Greens will only see a fall in the number of homes built and drive away investors.”

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By Jarrod
Jarrod Brown combines his background in journalism, copywriting and digital marketing with a lifelong passion for storytelling. He has a strong passion for new and emerging consumer technology within the building sector. He lives on the Sunshine Coast - usually found glued to the deck of a surfboard.