Prime Minister – Transcript – Press Conference – Springfield, QLD

Liberal Party of Australia

SAM BIGGINS, LIBERAL CANDIDATE FOR BLAIR: Thank you, Prime Minister. Good morning. My name’s Sam Biggins. I’m the LNP Candidate for Blair. It’s a pleasure to be here today in Springfield City, in the new stage of Springfield Rise with the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. Springfield City is part of South East Queensland’s fastest growing population growth area, spanning from here through to the Griffith Valley to Ipswich. There’s a lot of first home buyers in the area. They’re moving here for the lovely amenities, the facilities that are here, the shopping centres, the parks, the schools that you can see surrounding us. And we’re going to meet some of them today, which is going to be Amber and Kauri, who are very excited by our First Home Super Saver Scheme. I’m also going to meet a gentleman, Venu, whose family has built their first home using the Home Building Scheme. So on that note, I’ll introduce the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Thank you very much, Sam. It’s great to be here with you today. The Super Home Buyer Scheme is the next phase in how we’re helping Australians to own their own home and it works hand in glove with the policies that we’ve put in place to help those at another stage in their life to downsize. Now this does two things. It ensures that we are reinforcing people’s retirement savings, but we’re also freeing up more housing supply, which does put downward pressure on the rising costs of housing across the country. This plan is about utilising people’s own savings, their own superannuation, so they don’t have to stand on the kerb and watch house prices run away from them and they’re unable to get in and own their own home. Now, as a Government, we have had major progress in this area since the last election. At the same time before the last election I announced the Home Guarantee Scheme and together with Homebuilder, the First Home Super Saver that we’ve previously introduced that allows people to save for their deposit in their superannuation scheme at lower rates of tax. All of that, together with our investments into affordable housing in the country through the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation has seen 300,000 Australians and more – get into their own home in the last three years. And for first home buyers, we had 164,000 last year who were able to buy their first home at a time when house prices were rising. That’s up around 60,000 and more on what we would normally see on average in Australia for first home buyers. We’re helping first home buyers and Australians own their own home. And this scheme, which says you’re in control of your own money, you’re in control of where it’s invested, you’re back in the driver’s seat when it comes to fulfilling the aspirations that you have. This Scheme enables you to do that. Now, it’s a well-calibrated Scheme. It’s been well designed. We’ve thought it through carefully. We’ve ensured that you can only get access up to 40 per cent of what’s in your superannuation scheme. But importantly, once you ultimately sell the property then you put the money back into your superannuation scheme, including any of the capital gains you’ve made in that time. And you know what, you don’t pay tax on that either because it’s your own home, the money sitting in your super account, the earnings that are there, that attracts tax. But when you invest in your own home through your super scheme, it doesn’t. And all the earnings that you’ve had from your own home, the capital appreciation and the original capital sum that you’ve invested in, it goes back into the superannuation. The learnings we’ve had is that when people get to retirement, then if they own their own home, they are much better off and much less dependent on Government support. They have more choices, they’re more independent. What these two policies working together do is help achieve both people’s retirement savings goals and their home ownership goals, which means that Australians have greater security and can plan for their future with confidence. Now the downsizing plan that we’ve extended to those who are 55 years old and older, that is already making a very big difference for Australians and particularly for women, for their superannuation. They disproportionately have invested more of what’s going back into people’s super as a result of the downsizing plan. And we know women’s superannuation is a real challenge. The plan we’ve put in place for downsizing is helping women have better retirement balances when they downsize their home. There have been other challenges that have prevented that along the way during their working life. And this policy has been helping women and ensuring we reduce that age now to 55. It can only help more. So our plan is about putting Australians in charge of their future with their own money. It’s their money. We’re not going to tell them what to do with it. They’ll make their own decisions, but we’re not going to lock them away from it. We’re not going to stand there and let them stand on the kerb while the housing prices run away from them, and they’re not getting that opportunity. And we’re meeting people here today who are going to take up that opportunity. We’ve met others who’ve already taken up the opportunity right here in Springfield, already built their home using the HomeBuilder Program. So, there’s only one way you can get access to your money in your superannuation, to help you buy your home. And that is to vote LNP. That is to vote Liberal and National this Saturday. Labor will never let you do it. They think it’s their money to tell you what to do with. I believe it’s your money and to get access to your own money to help you buy a house, the only way to achieve that is to vote Liberal and National next Saturday.

JOURNALIST: Several of, several influential members of your own Party in recent years have come out against this super for housing idea, including Peter Dutton in 2017, and John Howard last year who said that super was for retirement, and Malcolm Turnbull came out last year and said that it was the craziest idea he’d heard. Are they all wrong? And why is it suddenly a good idea?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I was with Peter Dutton and John Howard yesterday and they were enthusiastically in support of the plan and this is something I’ve been working towards for some time. I’ve had a great passion for this. I started the First Home Super Saver Scheme and Labor opposed it. They opposed it and they’ve always opposed it. This was the plan which enabled you to put more into your superannuation, so you could accelerate your home deposit savings so you could deal with getting to that deposit. Labor opposed it. The Homebuilder Program, Labor bagged it. They knocked it. It’s helped tens of thousands of people to own their own home. And here we are today saying you can access your own money, protect your retirement savings and get in your own home. And Labor are opposing it.

JOURNALIST: So have Dutton and Howard changed their minds?

PRIME MINISTER: Clearly.

JOURNALIST: Your own Superannuation Minister this morning, Jane Hume, said people will bring forward some of their decisions to buy a house earlier and for that reason it will probably bring up housing prices temporarily. By what percentage increase are you anticipating this policy will add to house prices? And have you thought carefully about this policy?

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah, we have felt, felt, thought very carefully about this policy. And when you take this policy together with the downsizing initiative, remember, this gives people access to their superannuation to buy a home which includes buying new homes. That means new stock you would have seen on the plan that you saw in there, whole areas of new land opening up for development, which will mean new stock. That means more supply. That means putting downward pressure on what is otherwise rising pressure. The number one issue that forces up housing prices in this country is insufficient supply. And this policy, the downsizing policy, the HomeBuilder Policy has all been about increasing and supporting that supply, and that’s what can put down the pressure. So when taken together, Jane was referring in isolation, when taken together, as Michael Sukkar was, and when you look at the proportion of first home buyers of the entire real estate market, it’s quite marginal. It’s quite marginal. So I know Labor doesn’t like this idea. I know Labor doesn’t want you to have access to your super. I know they think that those who run superannuation are more important to them than you are to them because they won’t let you get access to your money. They want to keep your money in someone else’s control. I don’t agree with that. I just don’t agree with it. It’s your money and it should be your home.

JOURNALIST: The telltale signs, Prime Minister, the telltale signs of an economic slowdown are all around us. We’ve got rising interest rates, rising cost of living, falling house prices. Can you guarantee that Australia isn’t sort of heading into a recession and can you guarantee there won’t be any cuts to rein in spending if you’re elected?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’d have to pull you up on the presumption of your question. You’ve just told me house prices are increasing.

JOURNALIST: I didn’t. I said they’re falling.

PRIME MINISTER: And so, and now you’re saying they’re falling.

JOURNALIST: Okay. Well, rising interest rates, rising costs of living [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: Rising interest rates, and rising inflation, as we all know, is the product of what we’re seeing with a global set of forces on Australia, where Australia is actually performing better than almost all of the advanced countries in the world. Unemployment is at 4 per cent and falling. That is not the sign of a weakening economy. That’s a sign of a strengthening economy. And with more people getting into work, the biggest challenge we face in this country economically right now is getting more people into skills and into jobs. That’s what the economy needs. And the thing we have to be careful of is policies that we know that the Labor Party – you know, the Labor Party has not submitted one policy for costing during this campaign. We’ve maintained our AAA credit rating through the worst economic crisis we’ve seen since the Great Depression. That is the number one issue that shields Australia from the impacts of these global forces, which are putting pressure on cost of living and on interest rates. The other pressures we’re seeing, of course, on fruit and veg prices and things like that from the recent floods. So there are many issues that will put pressure on. But our economic management, our financial management, our financial management puts downward pressure on those things. We have a period, as I said yesterday, of very significant economic opportunity coming for this country. And I’m very optimistic about it. And that has been set up during the past three years while we’ve been investing in Australian businesses to invest in new plant and equipment. We’ve been investing in Australians to be on in their apprenticeships. 220,000 Australians in trade training right now. They’re the very skills which, which people have will be living right here in Springfield. So they can be working down at Rheinmetall, which is benefiting from the defence industry program our country is running to ensure that we’re investing in both their advanced manufacturing capabilities, as well as ensuring that they can have the export opportunities that is driving jobs here. So I don’t share your view. I’m optimistic about the Australian economy because of the investments we’ve made. We’ve brought Australia through the worst crisis we’ve seen in generations and now we’re set up to succeed. And that’s why this election is really important. It’s not just about avoiding the risk of Labor, a Labor leader that is loose with the economy and doesn’t have the experience there on national security. It’s about seizing the opportunities that we have, and one of those big opportunities is you to be able to get access to your own money, to buy your own home.

JOURNALIST: Firstly, just a question for Sam. What do you like about the housing policy? And Prime Minister, if I may, how can people get into a second home if they’re going to have to give up the deposit and the capital gain when they sell it back to their super?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, first of all, it’s up to 40 per cent and so we’re not pretending this is hundreds of thousands of dollars, where, this is people’s own saving, they’re drawing on their own money and particularly in the early stages, if they’re in their 20s or in their 30s, like many of you, you will know what your super balances are at this point. And so, you know, this is a well thought through plan, which means that it won’t put that added pressure on. But what it also will do is, over time, as you own your first time, it is our intention to ensure that you might be able to pay that down over the course of over that period in which you own your first home. And that means when you get to the next stage and you may well refinance over that period of owning your first home. You may take the opportunity at that point to be able to move on. It’s not unlike, frankly, which some young homeowners have to do when they go and get support from family and friends. They do the same thing. What this does is ensure that you don’t need to go and knock on that door. You can go and knock on your own door. You can go and get access to your own money. I mean, this is why I’m so surprised the Labor Party don’t support this. What could possibly be wrong with letting Australians use their own savings to buy the most important asset they will ever own in their lives?

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER: Oh, sorry Sam wasn’t going to – I mean, Sam knows quite a bit about this. He comes from the real estate industry.

BIGGINS: Thank you. Thanks, Prime Minister. That’s a great question. So I’ll give you a bit of background on this electorate where we’re standing right now. There are over 2,000 recipients of the Homebuilder Scheme here since 2020. We are in the very heart of first home buyer territory in South East Queensland, with the fastest population growth rate in Queensland and that is driven primarily by first home buyers. So I like the fact that it improves accessibility for that demographic to get into their own home. Not only does it improve the accessibility for them, but also it means that they’re the masters of their own domain. It’s their money going into their house, that they control, and also it helps stimulate our economy. Of the 220,000 trade apprenticeships which the Prime Minister mentioned in the country now, one per cent of those apprentices are right here in Blair. So the chippys, the sparkies, the plumbers, the kids that are getting jobs and working those industries and working on building these houses, they’re employed right here and it keeps our local economy growing, and gives people access to their first house.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: [inaudible]. Calm down. Just, just calm down. I’ll be going here and if there’s another question for Sam, I’m sure Sam would be happy to take it.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, economists and other experts like the Financial Services Council have criticised the Super Buyer Scheme, so it’s not just Labor. You say this is well-designed, well thought out. What analysis or research do you have to back up the benefits you say the Scheme has against criticism, it will simply pour kerosene on the fire of an already hot property market? What what is your –

PRIME MINISTER: I refer to the to the comments by Ken Morrison from the Property Council of Australia, who is basically dismissed, dismissed, I mean, this is the Head of the Property Council of Australia has has also disagreed with some of those analysis that others have have done.

JOURNALIST: Is there modelling and will you release it?

PRIME MINISTER: And what our Government has always done is focussed on ensuring that Australians get their own choices. And as I’ve set out to you, the proportion of first home buyers of the entire real estate market is marginal and therefore many of the assumptions that others have made about this have been based on false assumptions, and our policies are designed just to ensure people can get that access to their, to their money.

JOURNALIST: But what’s the analysis [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER: See, this is, this is the problem I have with those, this is the problem I have with those who would seek to pour scorn on this proposal. They’re happy for Australians who are trying to get into that home, they’re happy for them to have to watch the opportunity pass them by. So if you’re asking me, am I going to agree with those who want to stand up, stand with the big union super funds? I’m going to stand with the home buyer. That’s who I’m standing with. And I’ve stood with 300,000 of them in the past three years. They made all the same criticisms of all the policies that we put in place that has put 300,000 people into their own home. That’s my record. I’ve done it, and I’ve done it over a long period of time. I’ve got people into their own homes. So I’m sticking with our plan, because I know our plan stands by the home buyer, not by those who frankly don’t want you to be in control of your own money.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: You had a question to Sam. You had, you had a question to Sam.

JOURNALIST: Is there modelling and will you release it? Or are you being a loose unit?

JOURNALIST: How can you be trusted on national security and pursuing Australia’s interests, when you deliberately misrepresented the bipartisan nature of AUKUS to our American counterparts for months and Labor was only briefed the day before?

PRIME MINISTER: That is absolutely false –

JOURNALIST: So you’re saying Kurt Campbell lied?

PRIME MINISTER: … that report is absolutely false. We understood absolutely what the requirements were and we met them 100 per cent. I find it passing strange that you think that we wouldn’t have maintained the absolute discretion, as we did with so many of our own Cabinet. I mean, we’ve only seen it highlighted over the course of the last couple of weeks. I mean, you’ve got the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party who would have been sitting in such a briefing who had, you know, frequent flyer points for visiting the Chinese Embassy in Australia. I mean, seriously, this was one of the most secure and highly confidential agreements the Australian Government had entered into since ANZUS.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: We absolutely complied with all of the issues that needed to be addressed in forming that partnership and and the policy did receive bipartisan support for that. I’m thankful, but I can tell you this, you never trust the person who just gets on board later. You trust the person who had the foresight to put it together in the first place. This was a process that for 18 months, painstakingly working through incredible detail, incredibly sensitive issues, highly confidential. This was not something that I was going to be loose with, and I wasn’t loose with it. When the opposition needed to be informed, then they were, just as other members of the Government were informed at that time. The National Security Committee had carriage of this policy and that is the group that I worked closely with. And prior to that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence. We understood fully what the requirements were. AUKUS is a groundbreaking agreement, the most significant defence security agreement Australia has entered into in over 70 years, and I was not going to risk that on the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: The question’s here. The question’s here.

JOURNALIST: Thank you. Thanks, PM. You just said you weren’t going to risk it with Labor. Does that mean you cannot trust Labor? I mean, 12 hours’ notice is quite extraordinary. And this is the second time where the US has raised questions about how you handled it, because also too, there was the complaints that you didn’t square things away with the French before this was announced. Joe Biden said that himself.

PRIME MINISTER: The agreement was secured. It was secured in Australia’s interests. We maintain the absolute discretion and security of the negotiations and discussions as was needed to secure the agreement. This was, I mean, no country other than the United Kingdom has been able to gain access to nuclear powered submarine technology since the late 50s and previous Australian Prime Ministers and Governments have tried and failed. I was not going to fail. I was going to ensure that we got this done. And the requirements, I’ve already gone over the issues in terms of what we told the French Government. Of course, they were never going to be happy about cancelling a $90 billion contract, but a contract that had gates in it, gates that you either went through or you didn’t. And we were always very clear about that. We met, what we had to meet, in order to ensure that this agreement could proceed and it’s going to keep Australians safe. And it was a Liberal National Government that delivered it, that initiated it, that took it through and that secured it. And it has been one of the most significant policies to impact on security in our region that we’ve seen in many, many decades. That together, with our role, in ensuring that we revitalise the QUAD between Australia, the United States, Japan and India, and seeing that lifted to a Leader Dialogue level. These two policies, together, have kept Australia safe. And I wasn’t going to risk that. I was never going to risk that. It was too important for Australia’s future.

JOURNALIST: Just back to housing for second, so, in terms of the specific element of the policy which relates to people being able to use super contributions to be able to pay for their first home, have you done any modelling on the impact that that is going to have on house prices? And are you prepared to release that on that specific element of the two-pronged policy?

PRIME MINISTER: No, well I simply just don’t agree with the assertion in the first place.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, the assertion that this would have a negative impact because you have to look at the balance of policies that this is addressing. It deals with supply and it deals with demand. And these same criticisms have been levelled at every single housing policy I have been bringing forward, and on every occasion they have proved to be wrong on those criticisms. So I’m not about now to go and give them currency. What I know is Australians, they want access to their own savings, to buy their own home, to support them and their family, to come and live in a wonderful place like this in Springfield, in the Electorate of Blair, and the only way they’re going to be able to do that, the only way, is if they vote Liberal and National at this election on Saturday. If they vote for Sam on Saturday, that is the only way you will ever get access to those savings, your money, that’s what this policy does. Labor is against it. They’ll never give you access to it. Only the Liberal Nationals will ensure that you can get into your own home by using your own savings in your own retirement pool. And that’s a guarantee. Thanks very much, everyone.

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