Anthony Albanese has given his backing to an election promise from Scott Morrison to provide tax incentives to downsizers, but said it was a “modest” proposal and much more would be needed to tackle housing affordability.
The Opposition Leader said the suggestion by the Government was a “sensible” one, but there needed to be bigger investment in social housing, emergency housing for domestic violence victims and helping lower- and middle-income earners into the market.
The PM announced his new policy to encourage older Australians to downsize ahead of the Liberal party’s official campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday.
Under the new policy, Australians over the age of 55 who downsize their property will be allowed to invest up to $300,000, per person, into their superannuation.
Currently, this benefit is only available to those over the age of 65.
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Mr Albanese said he would back the idea in an interview with ABC’s Insiders program.
“We will (back it), this is a modest announcement to extend a downsizing program, we’ve supported that program up to now. But we support a comprehensive plan on housing,” he said.
“We need more investment in public and social housing through our Housing Australia Future Fund. We need to do more about emergency housing. Last night and tonight, like every night, women and children escaping domestic violence will be turned away from shelters.”
“We need to do more in that area. We also have our help-to-buy scheme which is about low- and middle-income earners getting a foot in the door of housing”
“ I know through my own personal experience how important a secure roof over your head is. We want to make sure that Australians have every opportunity to do that.”
Mr Albanese was also asked about his calls for a lift to the minimum wage of $20.33 by an extra $1 per hour.
He argued that because inflation was rising an increase would simply mean low-paid workers were not taking a pay cut in real terms.
“They are the heroes of the pandemic – they are cleaners, people who kept the economy going. We can’t just say thank you and take a real wage cut,” he said.
He said community centres that used to help homeless people were now providing to supports to people he called “the working poor”.
“They used to be prepared for the homeless, prepare who were really doing it tough. Now they are being prepared for the working poor. We need to recognise that people are doing it tough, we need to acknowledge it and not leave people,” he said.
He said if elected Labor would be fiscally responsible and would prioritise investing money in areas like cheaper childcare.
“We need to be fiscally responsible, which is why we’ve been very careful about our commitments,” he said.
“We’re prioritising investment in areas that grow productivity, that grow the economy. So areas like cheaper childcare, for example, for every dollar invested, produces $2 return to the economy at least.”
Appearing on the program minutes after Mr Albanese, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg complained Labor was “copying” his policies calling him a “mini-me”.
“I see yet again, Anthony Albanese, another “mini-me”, he copied us on deeming rates, supporting people with diabetes, changes around the concession cards for seniors, copied us on PBS co-contributions coming down, now he’s copying us on this.,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“This guy doesn’t have an idea of his own. What he is seeking to do, if he gets into governments to have a budget after the election but not telling the Australian community what will be in that budget before the election. That’s not right.”