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Struggle street: Morrison’s late pitch to first-home buyers

One week out from the election proper, Scott Morrison has announced a plan to ease the stress on first-home buyers. One has to wonder where was this earlier.

 

 

Yesterday, the day of our mothers was interrupted by the sound of two labouring electoral zeppelins, as both Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten held last-minute pitch conferences to their respective crowd. Despite the zen-bombs present, particularly Morrison’s pledge to “keep the promise of Australia to all Australians” – whatever that means, both parties bent the knee to the last-remaining and oft-unsettled voter subspecies: the first homeowner.

 

 

Morrison was the first to suggest it, stating that he’d help them bridge the gap in order for them to own their own home. Which is nice of him, so nice in fact, that Labor matched the pledge immediately, with Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen adding salt to the wound with this burn: “After six years of failure, and six days before an election, the Liberals are desperately trying to tell young Australians they understand their struggles to buy their first home.”

Bowen mentioned that Labor’s plan involves “…reforming negative gearing for future purchases, so young Australians don’t have to keep losing out to wealthy property speculators.”

Under Morrison’s plot, those who saved at least a 5% deposit would be eligible, far below the median deposit of 20%.

The plan is directed at first home buyers earning up to A$125,000 a year. The value of the eligible homes under the scheme would be determined on a subjective basis. Now, the theory behind it is sound, as it seems to solve the quandary of finding enough money for a deposit unless Daddy’s franking credits are available.

Despite this, the timing seems off, as the election is on Saturday, it doesn’t give us enough time to examine the deal properly. It’s fairly moot anyway, as Labor patching the hole in the fence made by Morrison sees it being a zero-sum announcement. Furthermore, placing it against his comments earlier in the week, one can measure the seriousness of the plan.

 

 

Morrison stated that the scheme was similar to an established plot in New Zealand. It would apparently cut the time to save one has to save for a deposit. It would give preference to working with smaller banks and non-bank lenders, in order to boost competition.

Per Michelle Grattan in The Conversation, “The lenders would do the normal checks to make sure the borrowers could meet their repayments, Morrison said, stressing that “this isn’t free money”. He said the support would remain in place for the life of the loan – when people refinanced after their equity increased the guarantee would cease. While the plan is a guarantee scheme it would be underpinned by $500 million in government money.”

Which, yeah. But we’re far too late in the game, and I’m far too cynical to believe anything. With 2.2 million of our neighbours already voting, it’s fair to say that this may be too little, too late. Or, if he was keen on making it easier to buy a home, where was this earlier?

 

 

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