What the major parties are promising on housing, cost of living and super
With just 10 days to go until the 2022 federal election on May 21 the policy announcements from both parties are still coming in thick and fast.
So, before you head out to the polls, here's a quick roundup of the promises made so far by the Coalition and Labor on housing, superannuation, childcare and more.
Rising interest rates and record-high property prices have ensured that the issues of housing affordability and home ownership have been among the most publicised during this campaign, with both parties presenting distinct policies to voters.
The Coalition is pushing its three-pronged Home Guarantee Scheme as the focal point of its plan for housing and home ownership. As outlined in the 2022 federal budget, the Coalition will increase the total number of places available to low deposit home buyers under the scheme - which includes the First Home Guarantee, Family Home Guarantee and Regional Home Guarantee - to 50,000 per year starting from July 1. Existing property price caps will also be increased to reflect the rise in house prices.
The Coalition has also pledged an extra $2 billion in low-cost financing for social and affordable dwellings which it says, together with existing funding, will support around 27,500 dwellings. It will also lower the age at which people can make a downsizer superannuation contribution from 65 to 60.
"As a government we fundamentally believe in the aspiration of home ownership, with people being able to build a place of their own and invest in their future. We know the importance home ownership brings, which is why we are expanding our extraordinarily successful Home Guarantee Scheme," says Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing, Michael Sukkar.
At the forefront of Labor's housing pitch to voters is the recently announced Help to Buy program in which the government would assist up to 10,000 eligible buyers purchase homes each financial year by taking on an equity stake of up to 40% of the purchase price. Buyers will need to have an individual annual income of $90,000 or less, or $120,000 or less per annum as a couple, and property price caps will apply on state and city basis.
Among other measures, Labor has also committed to funding 30,000 new social and affordable housing properties in its first five years of government through the establishment of a $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund and it will be rolling out its own Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme from January 2023.
"It's harder to buy, harder to rent and there are more homeless Australians than ever before," says Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jason Clare.
"Help to Buy will help Australians buy a home with a smaller deposit, a smaller mortgage and smaller mortgage repayments. This will help a lot of Australians buy a home with a smaller mortgage that they can afford to repay, instead of renting for the rest of their lives."
Unlike housing, there's barely been a peep from either party on superannuation policy. In fact, the only major headline on the issue in this campaign cycle came last week when Labor announced that it would not commit to paying superannuation to Australians on government-funded paid parental leave - at least, not in the short-term. It's also not part of the Coalition's platform.
Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek, told the ABC last week that while further paid parental leave reform was important, it wasn't a policy Labor would be taking to the election.
"It isn't possible for us to fix every problem that this government has created, including the problem of the superannuation pay gap, in our first term of government."
The initiative, which has been lauded as a measure that would go some way to helping reduce the retirement income pay gap between men and women, would come at an estimated cost of $200 million each year. While neither major party will be taking the initiative to this election, it is a policy being called for by the Greens and a number of independents.
For Australian parents the cost of childcare is an ever-present issue, so how are the Coalition and Labor positioning themselves on this topic ahead of the election? At this stage of the campaign the Coalition has yet to announce any new policies to add to its existing platform on childcare, though it recently removed the annual $10,655 subsidy cap for families earning over $190,015 a year while in government.
Labor, meanwhile, is promising to increase both the maximum care subsidy available for one child to 90% and raise the subsidy rates for all families with one child in care for households earning $530,000 or less. Higher subsidy rates will also be maintained for those with a second and subsequent children in care.
With inflation on the rise plenty of people around the country, including older Australians, have been tightening their belts to adjust to higher living costs. As a result, the ALP and the Coalition have released several policies targeted at easing cost of living pressure for pensioners - though on most measures there's not much light between them.
Firstly, following the recent RBA rate rise both Labor and the Coalition have made pledges to freeze the deeming rate for pensioners at its current level until 2024. The deemed rate for singles will stay at 0.25% for the first $53,600 of financial assets and 2.25% for anything above, while for couples (where at least one person gets the pension) the deemed rate will stay at 0.25% on the first $89,000 and 2.25% for anything above.
"This is another shield to help protect Australians from the cost of living pressures people could feel from an increase in interest rates," says Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.
What about the pension itself though? At present neither major party has proposed any changes, though the Greens, Katter Party and United Australia Party have all included an increase to pension payments as part of their respective platforms.
More broadly, the Coalition and Labor have each pledged to increase the income threshold used to determine eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card - a move that is expected to give 50,000 more people access to the card. Both have also promised to reduce the maximum price general patients pay for medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Currently sitting at $42.50, the Coalition will cut the cap to $32.50, while Labor will reduce it to $30.
Elsewhere on the cost of living front, both the Coalition and Labor have made pledges surrounding the price of power bills. For context, the AEMO recently released figures which showed that wholesale electricity prices rose 141% year-on-year during the first quarter of 2022 - an increase which is likely already flowing on to consumers.
As part of its Powering Australia plan Labor is promising that by 2025 it will have cut the price of power bills for households by $275 per year compared to what they are today. Meanwhile, the Coalition hasn't provided an exact figure as part of its policy, but it says it will "work to reduce power prices" by banning late penalty payments and implementing a $60 million Powering Business program which will provide grants for energy-efficient equipment upgrades.
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