First home super scheme passes upper house

Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)

Legislation allowing first-home buyers to save for a deposit through their superannuation has cleared the Senate.

The coalition used the support of the cross bench to pass the measure from the May budget through the Senate on Tuesday.

People buying their first home will be able to make pre-tax super contributions of up to $30,000 which can later be withdrawn and used for a home deposit.

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

The government supported Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm’s amendments which will extend the measure to people who have fallen on financial hardship.

Under Senator Leyonhjelm’s additions to the bill, the scheme will also be reviewed after 18 months of becoming law.

The opposition and the Greens are against the changes, with Labor senator Doug Cameron arguing the first-home buyers scheme will do nothing to address housing affordability.

“Instead, it will undermine Australia’s world-class superannuation system,” Senator Cameron told parliament.

But government frontbencher Zed Seselja said it is a well-calibrated scheme, giving people a tax break which would help them get an important asset.

He believes it won’t cause sudden inflation like other incentive programs which give out lump sums.

The youngest person elected to the upper house, Greens senator Jordon Steele-John, 23, warned if more wasn’t done to fix house prices a generation would be lost.

“My generation stands on the precipice of being the first in Australian history to have a lower quality of life than those that came before,” Senator Steele-John said.

One Nation supported the bill, but leader Pauline Hanson said housing affordability could also be aided by curbing immigration levels.


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