Albanese government puts housing, tax cuts on parliament agenda

Labor will spend the week fighting cost-of-living fires on multiple fronts when parliament resumes, as the government gears up to pass its new-look tax cuts against a backdrop of another housing battle.

While the changes to the stage 3 tax cuts will be the focus of the senate this week, debate on the government’s proposed Help to Buy scheme will resume in the lower house this week.

If passed, the shared equity scheme would allow more than 40,000 Australians to co-own their first home with the government, requiring just two per cent of a deposit.

The government says it’s a crucial part of Labor’s broader housing agenda, but are staring down the Coalition and the Greens.

The Coalition have ruled out their support for the scheme, meaning the government will need the support of the Greens and senate crossbenchers to get the policy through the parliament.

The Greens say the shared equity scheme is an unfair “lottery” and are prepared to use their balance of power in the senate to push Labor to pare back negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions in exchange for supporting the scheme.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has signalled the government won’t negotiate with the minor party, calling on them to support the legislation on its merits.

The debate in the House of Representatives will come after the Housing Industry Association on Friday cast Labor’s pledge to build 1.2 million homes in five years in doubt.

The group said new modelling showed the country was about 200,000 homes behind the target set by the Albanese and state and territory governments last year in.a $3.5bn deal, and that significant changes to tax rules and land supply costs were needed to close the shortfall.

“It is possible to build 1.2 million new homes over five years but it will require significant policy reforms,” HIA senior economist Tom Devitt said.

“These reforms need to include lowering taxes on home building, easing pressures on construction costs, and decreasing land costs.”

“It is possible to build 1.2 million new homes over five years but it will require significant policy reforms,” HIA senior economist Tom Devitt said. “These reforms need to include lowering taxes on home building, easing pressures on construction costs, and decreasing land costs.”

Meanwhile, in the senate, debate will continue on the changes to the tax cuts.

The Coalition is set to vote in favour of the policy, but will likely use the vote to move amendments undermining the government as they did when the Bill went through the lower house.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers called on the opposition and the senate crossbenchers to “do the right thing by their communities and the country”.

“Don’t delay, don’t stuff around, vote for the cost-of-living relief that our communities need and deserve,” he said.

“Labor’s economic plan is all about helping Australians earn more and keep more of what they earn, because we know that’s key to easing the cost of living.”

The Coalition are likely to use question time this week to push Labor to do more to tackle supermarket prices, after conversation turned towards forced divestiture last week.

Nationals leader David Littleproud called on the government to consider legislating powers to force Coles and Woolworths to sell off assets in a bid to improve competition and consequently lower prices.

Mr Albanese ruled it out last week, saying his government wasn’t “the Soviet Union”, instead pointing to the work of multiple inquiries currently underway.

With the Dunkley by-election just one week away, Mr Albanese will be hoping this week is a successful one.

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