ALP’s neg­a­tive pol­icy to go to next elec­tion

The Australian - - THE NATION - ROSIE LEWIS

Bill Shorten has de­fended La­bor’s neg­a­tive gear­ing pol­icy, declar­ing first-home buy­ers are “sub­si­dis­ing” in­vestors and needed govern­ment help as he comes un­der pres­sure to drop the pro­posed changes.

Amid warn­ings from global in­vest­ment man­ager Pen­dal Group that the soft­en­ing of house prices will “def­i­nitely es­ca­late” by up to 5 per cent un­der La­bor’s plan, the Op­po­si­tion Leader hit back, talk­ing up the ben­e­fits his pol­icy would de­liver to Aus­tralians try­ing to get into the hous­ing mar­ket.

“It’s just not fair that first-home buy­ers don’t have a level play­ing field. Do you know how many peo­ple go to auc­tions? Young peo­ple and their par­ents — they save and save for a de­posit and all of a sud­den they face com­pe­ti­tion from prop­erty in­vestors be­ing sub­sidised with the tax­payer money of the peo­ple try­ing to buy their first home,” Mr Shorten said in his first press con­fer­ence since Oc­to­ber.

“(Neg­a­tive gear­ing) is per­fectly le­gal now, we don’t pass any judg­ment on what’s hap­pened. If you’ve got it, you keep it, no wor­ries, but hard de­ci­sions have to be made.”

If La­bor wins the next elec­tion, it will limit neg­a­tive gear­ing to new houses but peo­ple who now ac­cess the tax break will still be able to.

The pol­icy will most likely take ef­fect from July 1, 2020, as­sum­ing the elec­tion is held in the first half of next year.

“The re­al­ity is that what af­fects hous­ing prices is sup­ply of land, it’s whether or not there are for­eign in­vestors and to some ex­tent it is neg­a­tive gear­ing. The best way I can char­ac­terise our changes is we’re go­ing to lower one of the gas burn­ers un­der­neath a boil­ing pot of house prices,” Mr Shorten said.

“I don’t think it’s fair first-home buy­ers get dis­crim­i­nated against un­der taxes they pay … (that) are be­ing used to sub­sidise the prop­erty in­vestor over a first home­buyer.”

Aus­tralian Tax­a­tion Of­fice data pub­lished by The Aus­tralian on Wed­nes­day re­vealed nearly as many Aus­tralians in La­bor elec­torates neg­a­tively geared their prop­er­ties as those in Coali­tion seats.

Josh Fry­den­berg has re­peat­edly said La­bor’s pol­icy would “smash” prop­erty val­ues and hike up rents and yes­ter­day re­jected Mr Shorten’s claim that neg­a­tive gear­ing was for the “for­tu­nate few”.

“Tell that to the 1.3 mil­lion Aus­tralians who neg­a­tive gear, in­clud­ing 58,000 teach­ers, 41,000 nurses & 19,000 po­lice/emer­gency ser­vice work­ers,” the Trea­surer said.

Mr Shorten and op­po­si­tion Trea­sury spokesman Chris Bowen agree it would have some “down­ward pres­sure” on house prices.


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