First Home Buyer Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

First Home Buyer Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

(Debate Resumed from 23 May, 30 May 2023, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I make a brief contribution to the debate on the First Home Buyer Legislation Amendment Bill 2023, which will replace the recently started First Home Buyer Choice scheme with greater access to stamp duty exemptions and concessions by lifting existing thresholds. Home ownership in Australia is declining, particularly by young people. Housing prices have ballooned and are now out of reach for those on low or moderate incomes. We know that owning your own home provides stability and security, particularly when life circumstances change, with wider community benefits. That is why I will not oppose the bill and why I did not oppose the previous Government's scheme. I support changes to increase resident requirements from six months to 12 months, which will help ensure that subsidies target genuine first home buyers. The existing requirement—for owners to live in their new home for only six months—makes it attractive to anyone buying with the intention of flipping the property as an investment.

I accept the Government's argument that the vast majority of first home buyers—84 per cent—purchase a property for under $1 million and will be better off under the bill. Those first home buyers will pay either no or low stamp duty, while not incurring an annual land tax. I accept the Government's concern that half of the cost of the current scheme has gone to those purchasing a home for between $1 million and $1.5 million, when those purchasing such a home make up only 13 percent of first home buyers. Some think that both schemes should be in place, but I cannot justify supporting an estimated further $700 million being diverted to first home buyers, away from homelessness. Subsidies must focus on those most in need.

Those looking for their first home for between $1 million and $1.5 million may be concerned about now having to pay stamp duty, but the evidence suggests that first home buyer subsidies do little for housing affordability and can even inflate prices. Indeed, a September 2022 Productivity Commission review found that nearly $3 billion given to first home buyers in subsidies worked against improving affordability, concluding that this money would have been better spent on preventing homelessness. The reality is that most people accessing first home buyer subsidies would be able to buy a home eventually anyway, while those experiencing housing stress or who are at risk of homelessness will never have the option to buy a home and take advantage of these reforms. We must shift the focus on housing affordability to strengthening safety nets for those who will never be able to afford a home, including by increasing access to social and affordable housing and by making the private rental market fair and affordable.

Right now, low-income earners, those who are frail, those who have complex needs in physical health, mental health, or drugs and alcohol, and women escaping domestic and family violence are being left behind. Their future is dire in what can only be described as one of the tightest rental markets in the State's history. If we do not act, homelessness rates will become out of control. Funding needs to be directed towards the shortfall of around 50,000 social housing homes. We need to build 5,000 new social housing properties every year just to deal with the current social housing waiting list. We need to improve the quality of public housing, provide more accessibility options and support older people who are being squeezed out of the private rental market. We need to work in partnership with the community and cooperative housing sectors, while expanding the shared equity program. Much needs to be done, and I look forward to working with all sides of the House to improve housing affordability for those most in need.

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