TIM HAMMOND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR RESOURCES
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR PERTH
SKY NEWS AM AGENDA
SUBJECTS: Housing affordability; coal power stations.
KIERAN GILBERT: Joining me now on the programme is Labor frontbencher Tim Hammond. Tim, thanks for your time.
First of all your thoughts on this housing affordability debate. Obviously the Government has, and Labor, some very different views when it comes to this. But in a broader sense you would welcome the fact, would you not, that the Government's taking what it says is a holistic approach rather than one or two measures which in isolation could actually distort the market.
TIM HAMMOND, SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSUMER AFFAIRS: Good morning, Kieran, it's great to be back. And if only that was the case. The reality is that any potential policy or any thought bubble on behalf of Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison or anyone from the Liberal Party at this point in time is really no further along from where they started - which was the idea to tackle housing affordability by getting rich parents.
I mean, the scene is stark. It is a crisis.
The reality is that this great Australian dream is now turning into a nightmare for Australians all across the country. And it's not just the East Coast that is being affected by the housing affordability crisis, Kieran. Look no further than my home town of Perth. I read in the papers today that we're now being labelled the mortgage default capital of the country. So it is a stark problem, it's cutting across the entire country and it's just not getting fixed under Malcolm Turnbull or Scott Morrison's watch.
I mean part of the frustration here, Kieran, is that we have consistently offered a pathway forward to the Government in relation to a big meaningful reform, which are changes to the negative gearing regimes. And the frustration with that, Kieran, is that you don't just take our word for it; you look at independent economists, independent experts who have come out andbacked in the need for reform in the negative gearing agenda. Saul Eslake, the Grattan Institute, just to name a few. We're not seeing any of that from this Government and we're not seeing any meaningful approach to tackling housing affordability.
Malcolm Turnbull himself has come out and said any notion of accessing superannuation is a thoroughly bad idea. And to the extent we're seeing any kind of conversation around tackling this issue we're seeing Scott Morrison look at re-establishing initiatives that he was responsible for abolishing. The National Housing Supply Authority, for instance. So what we're not seeing here is any meaningful approach to tackling a crisis that's spreading across the country.
GILBERT: But when you've got this idea of accessing super, this morning Chris Bowen the Shadow Treasurer has again said it would overheat the market; you'd have various bidders, first home buyers bidding higher and higher against each other for the same properties. However if you had a commensurate increase in supply, why not do that? Because you're talking about people being priced out. This would enable individuals - rather than waiting eight, ten years to get the deposit - they could do it much sooner.
HAMMOND: The problem with this approach, Kieran, is that again it is a potential short term grasp of hope, and all that is going to do is create further instability for young Australians, which is the best shot that Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have in the locker. It's taking no meaningful steps to actually addressing the problem, which is affordability for Australians right now.
This is the beauty of the reform package under Labor. With negative gearing and capital gains tax reform that it offers a way forward which meets in the middle of making sure we've got affordable housing and also a meaningful supply for young Australians who are just trying to realise their great Australian dream.
GILBERT: What are the problems, though, with the Labor approaches, you heard from Michael Sukkar, is with negative gearing only allowed for new properties, so places like outer suburban new developments, would they be hit by investors, the traditional location for many first home buyers that they be priced out even of those markets. So your own approach has got its flaws.
HAMMOND: See, Kieran, the beauty of the approach taken at the last election and followed through with Labor all the way up to today by Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten and everyone in the team is that reforms to negative gearing strike the right balance. It's not about ripping negative gearing out of the market altogether. It's creating a sensible middle ground where mums and dads aren't beaten to the race by property investors seeking to bank their ninth, their tenth, their eleventh property investment in order to create a windfall, tax deductible gain. So it's all about striking the balance; it's what we've offered all the way through.
GILBERT: And finally, you're the Shadow Assistant Minister for Resources, a big issue in your home state of WA. We're hearing now the Business Council of Australia proposal to extend the life of Australia's coal-fired power generators and to have a ‘fifty year rule’ - this is Sarah Martin reporting this in the Australian today. What are your thoughts on this as a proposition? It would certainly give certainty, wouldn't it, for energy supply?
HAMMOND: Well Labor has been very clear in relation to managing a just transition towards certainty and security of energy supply going forward into the future, creating jobs and also making sure that we reach our renewable energy targets going forward. It has always been the case from the Labor Party's point of view that coal is part of that conversation. And the reports that we read in the paper today really tell us nothing new. And that is we are reaching the end of time in many coal-fired power stations that are coming to their use-by date, and the focus, quite rightly, from the Labor point of view is managing that transition, through a gas conversation about creating security of meaningful supply across the country and an affordable price for energy, but then also managing towards a just transition to renewables which creates jobs, and also reduces emissions at the same time making energy affordable for everyday Australians.
GILBERT: So is Labor open to this sort-of ‘fifty year rule’ that gives certainty for investments in the space?
HAMMOND: What we've always been open to, Kieran, is ensuring that coal has been part of the conversation. We've never turned away from that and we never will. It's all about focusing on a just transition as we move forward to create energy security with the plentiful resources that we've got.
GILBERT: Shadow Assistant Resources Minister Tim Hammond, thanks very much for joining us from the Sky News Centre today. We'll talk to you soon.
HAMMOND: Thanks Kieran.