State Government must extend $15,000 first home owners grant to all home owners: SA-BEST

4 June 2020

The State Government should extend its first home owners grant to all owner-occupiers wanting to build their own home as an added stimulus to the Federal Government’s $688m HomeBuilder stimulus package and also introduce a fast-tracking planning approval process for councils to avoid delays, SA-BEST believes. 

SA-BEST MLC and Treasury and Transport spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, said the two-pronged financial incentive would provide a massive – and much-needed - boost to the state’s ailing construction industry and drive strong economic growth across South Australia. 

Frank said the State Government also needed to consider cutting stamp duty on residential properties – if only for a designated period of time, providing financial incentives for increasing apprenticeships in the housing industry given the state’s high youth unemployment and introducing financial incentives to assist people wanting to build their homes in regional South Australia. 

Under the HomeBuilder package announced by the Prime Minister today, families earning up to $200,000 per annum will be eligible for cash grants worth $25,000 to renovate or build new homes. 

The grants are also be open to singles earning up to $125,000. 

To be eligible, renovations must be worth a minimum of $150,000 capping out at $750,000. Investors will be blocked from using the scheme. 

“SA-BEST congratulates the Federal Government on its strong and decisive leadership in attempting to provide security and certainty to one of the country’s most important and biggest sectors,” Frank said. 

“However, the State Government’s lack of action has been appalling,” he said. 

“It must come to the party – and not sit on the coat-tails of their Federal colleagues – by providing further incentives to potential homebuilders to ensure our local building construction industry not survives the COVID-19 pandemic, but is able to grow and prosper in a post COVID-19 environment. 

“The Premier made great fanfare in March of his government’s $1 billion economic stimulus package which included a $650m Jobs Rescue Package. 

“Surely money can be directed from that package to fund this proposal. 

“While I welcome the Federal Government’s incentive, I have some concerns the people its targeting may not be able to borrow additional money to carry out such projects. 

“Many young home owners already would be mortgaged to the hilt - earning less than $200,00 a year as a couple/family - and banks would be reluctant to stretch their borrowing capacity. 

“The minimum threshold needs to be dropped to at least $100,000. 

“SA-BEST is also concerned at the fact work must commence with three months of a contract being signed – this could be a disaster in the making in local councils and banks hold up their processes. 

“The State Government must introduce a fast-tracked approval process to ensure this doesn’t happen.” 

Frank said the State Government must show similar leadership to other state and territory governments which have introduced schemes in support of the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder program. 

This includes the Tasmanian Liberal Government - which only this morning announced the expansion of its first home builders grant to all owner homebuilders as part of a broader $3.1 billion construction plan. 

Under that state’s scheme, anyone planning to build their own home will be eligible for a $20,000 grant. 

That scheme is expected to deliver 1000 new homes in Tasmania and support $400 million in construction activity over two years. 

The ACT Government has today also introduced a range of stamp duty concessions. 

“Uncertain economic times call for bold and innovative programs from all forms of government designed to stimulate economic growth – and sadly again, the State Government has been caught napping,” Frank said. 

“All the state’s economic indicators point to continued and worsening economic conditions – unemployment is the highest in the country,” he said. 

“The Treasurer has already flagged the state’s finances are in dire straits due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors, but it will be in an even more parlous condition if it fails to support the Federal Government in propping up the state’s beleaguered construction industry.”

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