MPI – Housing Affordability
Mr PITT (Hinkler—Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister) (15:40): I am afraid the blinkers have been on for this debate for some time. We have heard a lot about house prices in Sydney, but there is a big, brown, wide land out there. It is not just about one capital city in this country. I am about to speak about some good activity in Queensland. I note my friend and colleague the member for Rankin has slid around on the front bench here. It is only a little bit further, Jim, and you will be in the big chair! It is not far away.
Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, you are a passionate Queenslander. The Housing Industry Association report on 10 February 2016 said that the number of Queensland home building approvals was the highest it has been in 21 years. In 2015, 48,000 new residential buildings were approved in Queensland—the highest since 1994, according to the Housing Industry Association. When you are out in the regions, housing is much cheaper. They have also said the level of home building approvals are now double the rate reached during the post-GFC trough in industry activity—that information is from Warwick Temby. Multiunit developments have been the main driver behind the growth in activity in 2015. The detached housing market has also shown solid growth. This is good news for Queensland, where, of course, the downturn in the mining industry has had a detrimental effect, particularly on Central Queensland. In Central Queensland, there are tens of thousands of highly skilled people who want a job. The issue for them is that they want a job. Those are the things that we need to be focused on. The Housing Industry Association also said that the home building industry in Queensland can look forward to about $10 billion worth of work in 2016 and starting the construction of around 42,000 new homes. This continues to be good news.
Once again, I acknowledge that, clearly, house prices in Sydney certainly appear to be very high and very difficult to meet. But there are real opportunities in regional Australia, and I would encourage people who are out there listening to this broadcast: if you own a company, if you own a business, if you are out there on the ground and you want good opportunities for your people, shift to regional Australia; move your company somewhere else where housing is affordable. We have the infrastructure, we have the connecting links, we have the roads, we certainly have the telecommunications and, of course, we have airports with direct links to Sydney. Look at Harvey Bay in my electorate of Hinkler. There are direct flights to Sydney every single day. It is a beautiful part of the world to live in, and that is certainly why many Australians choose to retire there.
Mr Hutchinson: You have taken the words out of my mouth!
Mr PITT: I have taken the words out of your mouth! Housing there is certainly more affordable. But the opportunities are around jobs. Those are the things that we need to focus on. What do those opposite want to do? They want to destroy the housing market. Their proposal for negative gearing will destroy the housing market. I am advised by the Property Council of Australia that there are currently 5,576 investment properties in my electorate of Hinkler. Do you know who owns those investment properties? They are the mums and dads of my electorate. They are hardworking people on wages. They are the ones who take a risk. They are the ones who go to work and take an extra job so that they can get ahead. It is them that the Labor Party want to destroy. It is very straightforward. It does not matter whether you are selling houses or selling bananas. It comes down to supply and demand. If you take 30 per cent of the buyers out of the market, then clearly prices will fall. Eventually, you will have an oversupply and the prices will fall even further. What happens then? Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, I know you know what happens. Looking at farming properties in particular, when the value of properties fall, the banks do a review and the immediate action by the banks is to put up interest rates, which makes things far more difficult. If you are trying to meet repayments in difficult conditions and interest rates go up, it makes it harder again. What happens after that? Clearly they then look at serviceability—can you actually pay for the loan that you have? Then, if the price continues to fall, they start to look at foreclosing and they take your house away, which will then flood the market.
The proposal from the Labor Party is very straightforward. They want Australians who are out there right now who own these properties to go broke. They want them to lose their properties so that they can drive down the housing price market, particularly for Sydney. Out there in regional Australia, things are actually fairly bloody tough. Things are tough right now. I can tell you there are areas in regional Australia—I can look at somewhere in Flynn, for example, and, in particular, a couple of the smaller centres—where housing is incredibly cheap, under $200,000. One hundred and fifty thousand dollars will get you a nice little two-bedroom place. But the issue of course is jobs. That is what we need to be focused on. We need to be focused on that right now.
The proposal from those opposite is absolutely diabolical. The idea that we would destroy the housing market in this country I find absolutely incredible. It simply cannot go on. So, to the voters who are listening to this broadcast: do not vote for the Labor Party. They want to take your house away. They do not want you to have anything of value. They want to ensure that it goes down in value. It should not happen.