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We Are Helping First-Home Buyers. The Federal Government Should Do Likewise.

It's not about breakfast choices or simply finding a better job.

29/06/2017 10:16 AM AEST | Updated 30/06/2017 4:38 AM AEST

For many Victorians, owning their own home has become a great Australian dream, quite literally.

With Melbourne's median house prices surging a massive 40 percent in just five years, a whole generation of Victorians are being locked out of the market.

But this issue isn't just hurting us. It's a national problem that requires a national solution.

Young people, in particular, are being forced to bear burdens people of my vintage never encountered, especially when it came to housing and education.

It's not surprising, then, that the decline in home ownership is steepest among Victorians aged 25 to 34.

Unfortunately, to date, our Federal Government has offered little, and continues to refuse to consider the impact its taxation policies -- in particular negative gearing -- have on housing affordability. Rather than addressing the policies that have caused this imbalance, they instead tell first-home buyers to reconsider their breakfast choices, or simply to find a better job.

All of this has been accomplished using the levers we have available at a state level. It makes you question just how much could be achieved with a decisive and determined approach, from every level of government.

That's why we decided to take action when they wouldn't. Our changes mean that, from Saturday, first-home owners buying a house for under $600,000 won't pay a single cent of stamp duty. Those purchasing a property under $750,000 will also get welcome relief.

It's expected to help more than 25,000 young Victorians every year, saving them on average $8,000. It's more money they can put towards making an offer, or turning their new house into a home.

Of course, there are naysayers. There always are.

They claim that by cutting stamp duty for first-home buyers, all we've done is push up property prices by a corresponding amount. They fail to recognise that our changes are specifically targeted at first-home buyers. It means, at long last, first-home buyers have an advantage cashed-up investors do not, which improves their relative position.

While we're giving first-home buyers a leg-up, at the other end, we're taking one away by abolishing off-the-plan concessions for investors, closing a loophole that has existed for too long. This will ensure the concession is used by genuine home buyers, not investors purchasing their second, fifth or tenth property.

Critics also brush over the fact that our cuts to stamp duty are part of a much broader suite of policy reform.

On the supply side, we'll unlock 100,000 new lots, across 17 new suburbs. And importantly, we've already begun planning the services and infrastructure these communities will need in the years ahead.

We're also doubling the first-home owner grant for those building new homes in regional Victoria. Not only will it help young people in regional Victoria buy and live locally, it will also mean thousands of new homes are built, and hundreds of new jobs are created -- a boon for our regional economies.

We're also addressing the huge number of homes being left empty in inner city Melbourne. Owners who unreasonably leave their properties empty for long periods of time will now face a penalty. It won't impact holiday homes or deceased estates, but it will encourage investors to sell the property, or put it on the rental market.

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We'll roll out HomesVic too, co-purchasing properties with 400 first-home buyers who meet the criteria for a bank loan but because of ever-rising rental prices, lack a big enough house deposit.

All up, our plan will pump $3.7 billion into the state's economy and create more than 50,000 Victorian construction jobs. But more than just numbers on a page, these changes will help thousands of Victorians find their first home.

All of this has been accomplished using the levers we have available at a state level. It makes you question just how much could be achieved with a decisive and determined approach, from every level of government.

That doesn't mean shunting people into squashed CBD apartments, like the previous Victorian Liberal Government did. And that doesn't mean hanging on to negative gearing and unfair tax concessions, like our Prime Minister continues to do.

Our approach shows, once and for all, that when it comes to addressing housing affordability, there are no quick fixes -- but that doesn't mean there aren't any solutions.

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