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Don’t sink Help to Buy: Construction’s plea to Greens, Coalition

By Juliet Helmke
28 February 2024 | 11 minute read
denita wawn master builders reb rbge2t

With the government’s Help to Buy scheme hanging in the balance, Master Builders are urging the Greens and Coalition to back Labor’s bill.

The scheme, which was a cornerstone of the government’s housing promises leading into the last election, would see the government assist with up to 40 per cent of the price of a home for individuals earning less than $90,000 and couples earning less than $120,000, enabling them to put down a deposit of as little as 2 per cent, with the option of buying out the government equity over time.

The legislation is currently before Parliament, but earlier in the month, Greens leader and member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt, said the party would be demanding significant changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount in return for the party’s support of the bill.

It now looks as though failure could be on the cards, with the Greens indicating it may vote against the legislation in the Senate where the party holds the power to block the bill.

In the midst of this political wrangling, construction and building association Master Builders Australia is urging all those in opposition to rethink their stance, calling the program a “sensible policy approach that looks at lifting housing affordability pressures while not negatively impacting the investment market”.

Master Builders CEO Denita Wawn stressed the industry’s support of Help to Buy.

“We need to continue to develop policies that increase the housing supply while also encouraging people into home ownership.

“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,” Ms Wawn said.


The only changes the industry association advocates for is to expand the government’s involvement in new builds through the program.

“The proposal to provide higher equity caps for new homes (40 per cent) compared with existing homes (30 per cent) is to be commended. Master Builders supports the cap being expanded even further to 50 per cent,” the association noted.

Ms Wawn commented that anything the government could do to increase appetite for building would be a bonus, particularly in light of its ambitious housing target, set to begin this year.

“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.

“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 five years, which has never been done before. Beating our industry’s ‘personal best’ can only be done against the backdrop of exceptionally favourable conditions for the residential building industry,” Ms Wawn said.


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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