Election 2022: There’s something missing from the housing battle

By Tom Ravlic

May 16, 2022

Scott Morrison at Springfield Rise Display Village on Day 36 of the 2022 federal election campaign. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

COMMENT

Prime minister Scott Morrison’s launch of the federal government’s election campaign — a campaign that had been running for five weeks already — has launched a ‘battle of the plans’ in the housing affordability debate.

Morrison announced a plan that would permit people to use a portion of their superannuation to put towards a deposit to buy a home.

The Coalition’s plan would allow for first home buyers to access up to 40% of their superannuation to an amount not exceeding $50,000 to form a part of a deposit for the purchase of a home.

A requirement of that plan is for the money taken out of the superannuation fund to be returned when the property is sold.

This plan has again sparked a debate about the purpose of superannuation. Government talking heads state superannuation is money belonging to individuals and they should be free to use it to buy a home.

Other commentators have argued superannuation is there to provide for retirement and that it should not be used for the purposes of buying a property.

What is missing from the current public discourse on the battle of the plans?

Neither the current government nor the opposition, which has a shared-equity plan on offer this election, has spent any real time talking about the role of accountants and financial advisers in providing the analysis some people may need when they are contemplating what to do in these circumstances.

Assume for a moment that the government is returned this weekend and the plan announced yesterday comes into play.

It would be prudent for people to sit down with a qualified and registered accountant or financial planner for advice on the best way to achieve the goal of owning a home.

There is no mention in the current debate of the role of advice and the fact that people looking at the government might need to consider having a conversation with an accountant or financial planner.

Australians already know both inflation and interest rate rises are on the cards. The Reserve Bank of Australia said so earlier this month, and people will need to be wary about taking on debt they cannot afford.

It would be a good thing for the political parties to set aside the electoral self-interest in the messaging for a few moments and give some consideration to the seeking of financial advice when spinning their usual rhetoric.


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