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Housing plan to help the needy, punish the greedy
22 April 2017, 12:47 | Jan Cross
Labor has released its housing affordability plan more than two weeks before the federal budget
The Opposition is diving head-first into the housing affordability debate by releasing its own eight-point plan before the Turnbull government can define its proposals in next month's Budget.
Foreign home buyers, vacant properties and self-managed super funds will be targeted by Labor as the federal opposition launches a pre-emptive strike on affordable housing created to seize the political agenda from the Turnbull government.
LABOR leader Bill Shorten has promised to build 55,000 new homes and punish investors who hoard empty properties if his party wins government.
Since 2007, self managed super funds have been permitted to borrow money to buy assets, including property, and borrowing by such super funds has risen from $2.5bn in 2012 to more than $24bn.
Labor would establish a Council of Australian Governments process to achieve a more efficient and uniform vacant property tax across the main cities.
Foreigners who want to invest in homes would see the application fee double, from as much as $20,000 to $40,000 for houses worth $2 million to $3 million. Labor is also proposing to double the maximum financial penalties for breaches of foreign investment rules that apply to residential real estate.
The Turnbull Government is also planning a housing affordability package.
About $88 million would be spent on a new "safe housing fund" for people escaping domestic violence and those at risk of homelessness.
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Labor says the super funds' ban "will prevent the unnecessary buildup of risk in Australia's superannuation system, reduce future calls on the aged pension as a result of a less diversified superannuation system and make the financial system more resilient in the face of potential economic shocks".
Labor would limit the tax benefits from negative gearing and capital gains - neither move publicly backed by the Coalition government - but would match the Treasurer's plan for a bond aggregator to fund community housing.
Mr Shorten said it was time to tackle the housing affordability crisis and give more middle and working class families a shot at home ownership.
Opposition frontbencher Anthony Albanese was unable to say whether the Labor plan would make housing cheaper.
Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne questioned why Labor didn't have such a plan when it was in office for six years.
"If Labor really wanted to do something about housing affordability they would encourage Labor governments and state governments to open up more properties for new houses", he told the Nine Network.
Federal Labor has admitted the aim of its housing affordability package is to take the heat out of the residential property market rather than bring down house prices. "You've got to deal with supply, you've got to deal with what's happening in the market, and we're dealing with it".
Options floated over recent weeks include possible changes to the capital gain tax concession - a reform championed by the treasurer, Scott Morrison, despite public resistance from the finance minister, Mathias Cormann.
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