First home super scheme passes lower house

(Australian Associated Press)

The federal government insists its plan to allow first-home buyers to save for a deposit through their superannuation won’t undermine Australia’s retirement savings system.

The coalition used its numbers in parliament’s lower house to pass the measure – announced in the May budget – on Wednesday.

The legislation also allows older Australians to contribute the proceeds of the sale of their family home to their super.

Labor and the Greens are against the proposal, with the opposition claiming it will do nothing to address housing affordability.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen argues it will instead work to undermine the country’s superannuation system, labelling it a “sham”.

Assistant minister to the treasurer, Michael Sukkar, accused Labor of deliberately peddling misconceptions about the scheme.

He told MPs it was not an attack on superannuation but simply provides people with an opportunity to save more money that wouldn’t otherwise be used for super.

“It’s quite shocking and surprising to see any political party take a view that a tax cut for first home buyers is something that they cannot support,” Mr Sukkar said.

Labor, however, said it won’t stand in the way of two other housing affordability bills, both of which were announced in the 2017 budget.

They include limiting deductions investors can claim in relation to residential properties and imposing an annual fee on foreign owners if their property is vacant for at least six months during a one-year period.

Mr Bowen said there was nothing to oppose because the measures were ineffective.

“What we see here is some minor tinkering which won’t do anything for housing affordability,” he told parliament.


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