Poorest Aussies finding it harder to own a home, and the Liberals want to make it worse - Transcript, 2SM with Marcus Paul


SUBJECTS: Housing affordability; superannuation; JobKeeper; Canberra Marathon.

MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Now, on JobKeeper and all those payments, our #JobKeeperWarrior is Andrew Leigh MP. Good morning to you, Andrew.


PAUL: Thank you, mate. I just want to, before we get into it, I just want to read you something. Aspiring homeowners now need a whopping six-figure deposit to purchase a property, according to a new study. Finders First Home Buyers Report 2021, which surveyed 1,028 first home buyers found 11 percent, Andrew, required more than a decade to scrape their deposit together. This staggering result followed new Australian Bureau of Stats data that showed the average deposit needed to secure a mortgage was — I hope you’re sitting down mate —  $106,743. $106,743. That is an increase of 16 percent since January 2019. The report also found the average first home buyer put down 20 per cent of the purchase price as a deposit. But if you're saving for a decade, and you need on average $106,000 just to secure a property, does that not tell us that housing affordability is at an all-time low?

LEIGH: Sure does, Marcus, and home ownership is lowest it's been in a couple of generations. We've seen a drop right across the board, but particularly for 20- and 30-somethings. The poorest 20- or 30-somethings, 63 percent of them used to own their homes in the early 1980s. Now it's only 23 percent of that group owns their homes. The average house used to take six years to save for a deposit. Now, it takes 10 years to save for a deposit. So, we've got a real problem in terms of people being able to make it into the housing market. 

More and more of our homes are owned by fewer and fewer people. Increasingly, people are being forced into lifetime renting.

PAUL: Some people have suggested that perhaps people dip into their superannuation. Tim Wilson and others have mentioned maybe that's the way forward. The Coalition's Tim Wilson and a clutch of other backbenchers, they say that maybe home first, super second is the way to go. What do you make of this? 

LEIGH: Well, Malcolm Turnbull said he thinks it’s one of the craziest ideas he's ever heard. And then yesterday we had the respected Grattan Institute come out and show in their analysis that it just wouldn't make a difference. One of the simple points they make is that if you're concerned about the poorest young Australians, the bottom fifth have basically no super and the next fifth have only, on average, $15,000 in super, so it just wouldn't help poor Australians break into the housing market. 

What it would do is allow people who already have quite a lot in super to buy more expensive homes, effectively inflating the housing market and pushing up the problem of housing affordability. It's not just me saying this. When I asked the experts at APRA, the prudential regulator, about this in the committee hearing recently, they agreed: this would increase the profits of banks, it would drive up house prices, and it would cause more difficulty for first home buyers breaking into the market. Every sensible expert who looked at this sees it not just as being a failed solution, but also something that would make the problem worse.

PAUL: Yeah, the poorest 20 percent of households are headed by 35- to 44-year-olds, precisely the group for whom homeownership is falling fastest. Typically, they have no or little superannuation. The next poorest 20 percent typically have $15,000 only in super. It means allowing Australians to use their super for housing would mainly help wealthier people buy more expensive homes, therefore, as we know, Andrew, pushing the prices up even further.

LEIGH: As always this Government, Marcus, the Liberals response is to try and get poor people to fund their own retirements, to get themselves out of problems. We saw this with the harebrained scheme of domestic violence victims tapping into their superannuation.

Rather than assist the most vulnerable, the Morrison Government is always about trying to make them poorer in retirement.

PAUL: Alright, let's move on to JobKeeper. There are more and more stats, I saw a post and we shared it the other day about another company where, 1300Smiles, their big boss recently bought a McMansion up there in Far North Queensland, in a tropical island paradise. He paid $6 million for it. His company received $2 million in JobKeeper payments, haven't paid a cent back. Maybe this bloke instead should have bought a $4 million property and given the other $2 million back to Australian taxpayers.

LEIGH: Some people aren't having any problem breaking into the top end of the market, are they, Marcus?

PAUL: No. 

LEIGH: The fact is that, well done to Daryl Holmes, he has set up a profitable business, but it's not a business that needed corporate welfare. It didn't need that $2 million from you, me, and your listeners. It did very well through the pandemic and he could benefit by doing the right thing, following the likes of Toyota Australia, and getting their money back to the Australian taxpayer. It's the right thing to do. 

He could pat himself on the back for his corporate social responsibility rather than just putting his hand out to take money from the taxpayers that he never needed.

PAUL: As you know, I spent many years in Canberra. You and I used to have a chat on my old Drive show on 2CC and we spoke time to time. I didn't realize how fit you actually were, and there are plenty of other of my former colleagues in the nation's capital who are, like yourself, bloody marathon men. Can you just stop it, OK? You’re putting people like me to shame.

LEIGH: Well, the marathon’s a fun event, Marcus, because it's far enough that it does really test you and if you get it wrong you really blow up badly. I've had that happen a couple of times. 

PAUL: Right.

LEIGH: Fortunately, things went OK on Sunday’s Canberra Marathon. We had fabulous conditions for marathon runners: no wind, nice and cold, and it was just,  you know, after the year of lockdown so many of us were just running with big smiles on our faces for the chance to be able to race rather than being stuck at home.

PAUL: All right, so you completed the Canberra marathon. How did you go?

LEIGH: I got 2:49 which is my quickest time for the Canberra marathon.

PAUL: 2:49!

LEIGH: It's about four minutes a kilometre pace. It was a good run and just terrific to be out there. I really enjoy the egalitarianism of running. You just need a pair of running shoes, show up on the start line, and really all that matters in the end is how much training you've done. There was a great lot of us about. A whole lot of Sydneysiders came down to do it because for many people it's their first race in more than a year, so a fabulous atmosphere. A terrific lot of volunteers out there.

PAUL: Oh, shut up. Listen to him. Listen to him, eh? Marathon man. Good on you, mate. Look, I think I could probably do a 10k, that'd be about it at the moment, but anyway-

LEIGH: -That's not bad, Marcus. The main thing is, as I always say to anyone contemplating running is ‘just start’. A few steps are better than none, and the ‘Couch to 5k’ programs are very easy to follow for anyone who's keen to get into the sport.

PAUL: Good to chat as always, mate. Have a good week. We'll catch up next week.

LEIGH: Great. Thanks, Marcus.

PAUL: Alright, you're welcome. 


Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.