Building and Construction Industry

12 June 2020 - House of Representatives

Mr DICK (Oxley) (15:47): It's always a delight to follow the genius member for Bowman, who's spent 16 years languishing on the back bench. They say, 'Our colleagues know us once.' We often ask ourselves why he has not spent one minute on the front bench. After that demonstration, we know the answer. When I was growing up, my father would often say, 'Come off the grass.' He used that expression all the time when I was a kid. This government is so arrogant that, when they announce policies, they go to someone's front yard and stand all over the grass and then have to be asked to get off the grass. Great advancing, PMO! Well done on a great start. It says everything we need to know about this arrogant government—arrogance when announcing the scheme and arrogance in its implementation.

The HomeBuilder scheme looks like it's completely failing. From what we can see so far, as of 3.50 this afternoon, nobody has applied for it. If you go on the website, you can't even formally apply. The federal government website only asks people to provide their email address. This is in complete contrast to last week's front page of The Australian: 'Renovation rescue for tradies' jobs'. I thought: here we go! 'Work for one million tradies' is what they said. The only problem is, as we found out this week, it's for 7,000 renovations. It's all rubbish. As the shadow minister said, it's not 'Scotty Sham'; it's Scotty Cam. But we know that, time and time again, the proof is in the pudding when it comes to this government.

You only need to look at some of the News Corp headlines: 'Scott Morrison's HomeBuilder scheme declared a "dud" that will make the well-off richer and fail to save construction jobs'. The article says:

Experts say the government's HomeBuilder scheme will do little more than fund fancy decks for well-off people to sip Chardonnay on and overpriced luxury kitchens full of European fittings and fixtures … HomeBuilder has been described as "a good idea gone bad" …

We know from the coverage of this that it has been described as 'possibly the most complex and least equitable program the government could have devised to deliver construction jobs'. A quote from the news coverage of this in the News Limited papers said:

Rather than provide a lifeline to the struggling construction sector, which is at risk of losing hundreds of thousands of jobs as demand slumps … the program "is a way of making people who are reasonably well off richer".

"It might build more nice decks for sipping Chardonnay – most already planned – (and) it might deliver ritzy new bathrooms with imported taps or even new kitchens with the latest European appliances, but it won't help those suffering housing stress," …

There you have it: experts ridiculing this policy.

I want to turn to my home state of Queensland. In the Courier Mail this week, the article 'Few Queenslanders plan to take up HomeBuilder scheme for renovations' said:

Just 0.03 per cent of Queenslanders were forecast to take up the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant to do a major renovation, with the Federal Government banking on a higher uptake for new home builds.

Here we have an announcement by the government—great headlines splashed across all the newspapers—but, when you drill down into this, when you actually look into it, what the scheme doesn't deliver is one extra cent for social housing. Not one extra cent! While the government's priority is to build fancy decks for people to drink Chardonnay on, to the people who are waiting to get into housing, the thousands of Queenslanders on waiting lists, this government says: 'Wait your turn. Just wait because we've got other priorities.' This government's priorities are all wrong.

We know that it's incredibly disappointing that the government refuses to take action on constructing more social housing, on repairing and maintaining existing social housing, on the construction of more rental accommodation for frontline workers and on the expansion of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for new builds and grants to first home buyers who buy their own first home. This scheme is a dud, it's not going to work and, today, we condemn the government for not delivering a program to deliver real construction jobs and housing for this country.