Wednesday 4 June 2014

Hansard of the Legislative Council



Mr FINCH  (Rosevears)- Mr President, this bill makes it clear that the First Home Owner Grant is directed at stimulating the building industry, rather than just helping people to buy their first homes. In that respect there is evidence that it is effective in Tasmania. As the Leader read from the second reading speech, since the commencement in November 2013 an increase in building activity has already started to occur, with a sharp increase in the uptake of the increased scheme. The grant is now the most generous in the nation, particularly when taking into account Tasmania's housing affordability, which should provide an incentive for people wanting to build their first home to do so.

The Examiner newspaper shows that Tasmanian dwelling approvals rose 5.3 per cent in April, with approval ratings for the month more than 30 per cent higher than at the same time last year. According to the Examiner's report, the figures outstrip every other state and territory, and hovered high above the national average of 1.6 per cent. However, surprisingly for me, the executive director of the Master Builders of Tasmania, Michael Kerschbaum, is reported as saying he does not want the first home buyer's grant extended beyond the end of this year. Although it had helped resuscitate the building industry that was virtually on its knees, there was no reason to extend the grant into 2015. He is reported as saying it must be seen as a short-term measure. I think he is wrong.

I support this bill, but with some regrets. As was mentioned by the Leader, last year we passed legislation to stop the payment of First Home Owner Grants of $7 000 for first home buyers of established homes. I would argue that most first home buyers look to the older homes, even the run-down and renovatable homes, to get their feet on the bottom rung of the home owner's ladder. I can speak from personal experience. My youngest bloke, David, had bought a building block and was looking to build his first home, but found that by the time he went through the process of getting it planned, using modern building materials, getting established on the block of land that he needed to do justice to, it was far too expensive for him to take that gamble with a new home. He has subsequently sold the block of land, but bought a home in an older suburb, a house that is renovatable. His future father-in-law - I do not want to speak out of turn here, I do not want to put any pressure on them -

Members laughing.

Mr FINCH - He is a builder and a very competent carpenter and is looking forward to helping David and his partner renovate that home and maybe then to sell it for some sort of profit and maybe have the opportunity then to build that first home. That was an opportunity lost in their circumstances because they then do not have that small amount of money to help them get started in that way. People who renovate a home and start off with a more humble beginning will probably go on to buy their newly built home.

I believe home ownership is the keystone of the Tasmanian and Australian way of life. There is a trend against it in the big cities of Melbourne and Sydney, but it is of vital importance to Tasmania. I support this bill but I would like to see the reintroduction of incentives for new home buyers to get into the market by buying older homes when the state Budget situation allows.