Federal election 2022: Labor blasts Morrison Government over ‘desperate’ housing policy

Headshot of Annabel Hennessy
Annabel HennessyThe West Australian
Anthony Albanese and Scott Morrison.
Camera IconAnthony Albanese and Scott Morrison. Credit: The West Australian

Labor says young people should not have to “raid their superannuation” to buy a home, labelling a new policy from Scott Morrison to give first home buyers access to super a “desperate act of a dying Government”.

On Sunday the PM announced if re-elected he would make changes to super to enable first home buyers to use up to 40 per cent of their super to put towards buying a home.

The announcement has received mixed responses with real estate groups welcoming it, while Industry Super claimed it would drive up house prices.

Labor was quick to reject the announcement, with shadow housing minister Jason Clare pointing out the idea had been rejected by former Liberal leaders including John Howard when they looked at it in the past.

“What we saw today was the last desperate act of a dying government, every heavy hitter in the Liberal Party of the last generation that has looked at this issue have knocked it on the head,” Mr Clare said at a press conference on Sunday.

“Malcolm Turnbull described this as ‘the craziest idea I’ve ever heard’. John Howard said ‘super is for retirement’ and he’s right. Peter Costello said: ‘Well, look, this idea has been around for a long time. Every generation thinks it’s invented the wheel’. “

Mr Clare went on to say former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann had been the most critical of the idea. He read out a quote Mr Cormann gave in 2014 when he said “access to super savings pre-retirement will not improve housing affordability” and “would actually drive up house prices by more. That is it would reduce housing affordability, including for first home buyers”.

“That last great generation of Liberal leaders who could count - Howard, Costello, Turnbull, Cormann - have all reached the conclusion that this policy won’t work; that it would only push up prices, and mean that Australians retire with less, not more,” Mr Clare said.

He said young people “shouldn’t have to raid your super to buy a home” and said those struggling to get into the housing market typically had no or very little super.

“The Grattan Institute reached the conclusion that a policy like this would mainly help wealthier people to buy more expensive homes,” Mr Clare said.

He spruiked Labor’s Help to Buy scheme which would allow first homebuyers to purchase a home where the Government owned 30-40 per cent equity that would be paid back when the property is sold or the buyer’s income increases.

The Help to Buy scheme is similar to the existing Keystart scheme which runs in WA.

Mr Morrison has been critical of Help to Buy claiming Labor wanted to own “part of your home”, but Labor has responded by pointing to previous interview the PM has given where he praised similar programs in other jurisdictions.

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating, who was the original architect of the compulsory superannuation scheme which requires employers to put money into funds for workers’ retirement, called the policy another reason not to vote for Mr Morrison.

“The Liberals hate the superannuation system – they object to working Australians having wealth in retirement independent of the government,” he said in a statement.

“The Libs believe ordinary bods should be happy with the age pension. Let them know their place.

“If the public needs yet another idea to put this intellectually corrupt government to death, this is an important offence – and with the government, its unprincipled Prime Minister.”

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