Home buyer plan at least attempts a fix

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Federal election
Scott Morrison is gambling the House (of Representatives) on his housing policies in the last six days before undecided voters make up their minds. As flawed as the policies are, it indicates how the Coalition has been listening to elector concerns on housing affordability.
In response to the policy on accessing superannuation as part of a deposit on a first home, Labor fell into a seemingly scripted line declaring super as sacrosanct. Can’t Labor MPs see and hear the voters they have to win over in the remaining days of the campaign?
Des Files, Brunswick

Long-term cost
The proposed superannuation for housing scheme is a typical short-term “buy now, pay later” Morrison move. He’ll buy your vote now and you’ll pay for it later. Some desperate people will grab at this without considering the future consequences for their retirement. Most will fail to appreciate that more purchasing power inevitably drives prices up.
Stephen Farrelly, Donvale

Keep the cash in super
About 20 years ago I was offered a cash payout on my super funds instead of a fortnightly payday. If I took the cash I would have been able to invest in the stockmarket, buy investment houses or put the money in a fixed deposit and live off the interest. My financial adviser said to stay with the fortnightly payday, which is what I did. I have never regretted doing so.
Mick O’Mara, Winchelsea

A bad time to buy
The new housing policies of the two main political parties show how they care more about being elected than doing the right thing by the electorate. Who in their right mind would buy a house in today’s market with increasing interest rates certain to cause defaults on loans? Better to put off buying until house prices have fallen by their expected 25 per cent.
Geoff Cameron, Alfredton

People want access to nest egg
Allowing first home buyers to access up to $50,000 of their super might prove very popular. Almost 3 million Australians withdrew about $36billion from their super accounts under the government’s emergency program in 2020. This shows many people prefer to control their own money now and not hope their super fund will deliver a windfall many years in the future.
Rod Wise, Surrey Hills

The solution ignored
Isn’t it a shame that neither party was prepared to review the policies on negative gearing and franking credits. By “grandfathering” both, there would be no loss to those currently enjoying the benefits, whilst providing significant revenue for the future.
Michael Cleaver, Southbank

THE FORUM

Short-term politics
When Australia is crying out for a government with long-term strategies and policies to secure an equitable future for all Australians, what do we get? Short-term political gain, destabilising policies such as the Coalition’s plan to allow first home buyers to deplete their superannuation funds. We even have Coalition members going further and wanting all home owners to also be given access to super to pay off their mortgages.
Ask a retiree with little or no super living on a part or full pension how they manage economically day to day. I’ll be very surprised if they support the Coalition’s proposed scheme for their children or grandchildren.
Jim Barnden, Richmond

Do the numbers add up?
Thank you to your correspondent, (“A political offer with very little bite to it”, 17/5) it is doubtful that the general voter has the economic literacy to analyse the government’s plan to support first home buyers and other proposals. The housing policies of both major parties target individuals, with the Coalition’s advantaging relatively well-off young people and propagating the simplistic “it’s your money” mantra. In contrast, the Labor policy reflects a belief in government support for all potential home buyers. Morrison’s policy undermines the purpose of superannuation. Policies that focus on the supply side of housing would require building, not bulldozing.
Lesley Hardcastle, Ashburton

Super plan fails women
Scott Morrison’s plan to allow people to raid their super to buy a house is another example of the Coalition’s woman problem. Women, in general, have much lower amounts in super for a number of reasons. The gender pay gap is one which the LNP has done nothing to address in its nine years in power. Blokes and their utes featured heavily in a recent federal election. Is this any different?
Claire Cooper, Maldon

Tried but failed
In marginal seats, both major parties are buying votes by making funding promises that may turn out to be unconstitutional (“Off track: Spending vows may breach Constitution”, The Age, 17/5). They hope they turn out to be unconstitutional, or even know it already. That way, they can get out of the promise without too much egg on their faces. They tried their best, you see.
Ralph Böhmer, St Kilda West

Nation bigger than NSW
On Monday night Scott Morrison was asked by Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30 what the Coalition can show as a lasting change from nine years of government. Morrison named four projects of significance, of which three are in NSW: building the Snowy Hydro, building the Western Sydney Airport and the duplication of the Pacific Highway. Hello Victoria? The fourth project named by the prime minister was the Inland Rail project. The last time I looked just 98 kilometres of rail line had been upgraded, again in NSW, which is not what I would regard as significant nation building. Is that all we have to show for our trillions of dollars of debt?
Doug Shaw, Sunbury

Difficulties ahead
With all the problems Australian is facing associated with the COVID pandemic, climate change, inflation, the housing crisis, a collapsing hospital system, etc, a win at this election would seem to be a poisoned chalice.
Tony O’Brien, South Melbourne

Lack of gas a risk
Your article (“Chemicals tycoon shaping our ‘gas-fired recovery’”, 15/5) highlights my own role in efforts to develop Australia’s modern industrial policy for contemporary needs and to assist the transition to a lower emissions world. Unfortunately, it made no account of the many issues that need to be addressed.
You highlight the question of natural gas. You do not canvass the issues raised by the lack of gas supply for our economy. These include: The risk to jobs that is now apparent from the failure of the domestic gas market, which contrasts with Australia’s status as one of the leading exporters of natural gas. The role of gas as feedstock to industry and the manufacture of a wide array of high-value products supporting high-value jobs, including fertilisers for our agricultural sector. The role of gas in firming renewable electricity supply, to enable the transition. All one must do is look to Europe for policy failure in creating a viable and affordable energy transition.
While I hope that my contribution is valued, I would make the obvious point that mine was a purely advisory role. The hard job, of making decisions on policy, is for our elected representatives.
Andrew Liveris, COVID-19 Commission manufacturing taskforce

Worthy endorsement
Congratulations to Heather Henderson (“Menzies’ daughter backs Frydenberg”, 17/5). The quality of our parliamentarians is so vital for our nation it is important members of the calibre of Josh Frydenberg are retained. His record as a local member, as a minister and as treasurer makes him one of the outstanding members of the House.
Alan Gregory, Malvern East

Step aside for repairs
Chip Le Grand asks an important question: “… should they [voters] keep MPs like Frydenberg in parliament and give the Liberal Party space to help stop the rot?” The only sensible answer is “No”.
Leaving aside the question of Frydenberg’s competence, why would you choose to leave a party that needs to sort itself out in charge of running the country? After it has stopped the rot and made the necessary repairs, then voters might consider it a suitable party to govern once again. But that’s not now.
The daughter of Sir Robert Menzies, the great monarchist, might want Kooyong to remain in Liberal hands. But Kooyong is not a monarchy with a divine right of succession. We’ve had the vote for a while now and it is our right to choose who will represent us.
Margaret Callinan, Hawthorn

Voices worth hearing
So Robert Menzies’ daughter pleads for Kooyong to vote for Josh Frydenberg so she can die under a Coalition government? Can we see who Eddie Mabo’s daughter thinks Goldstein voters should elect, John Curtin’s godson’s pick for my seat of Monash, and Cheryl in Darwin’s call for Bass?
Jillian Staton, Tarwin Lower

Services need boosting
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham says that essential services “remain guaranteed” despite public service cuts that a new Coalition government would bring in. Well, essential services are not that good already – perhaps he can mention a public service where you can easily contact a real person, not wait endlessly on the phone, and you have the chance to have a problem sorted, correctly, in real time.
If anything, I’d like to see more federal government spending on essential services – hospitals, ambulances, Centrelink, Medicare, etc, and less on car parks, changerooms and other projects that are the province of local councils.
John Pinniger, Fairfield

What’s under the hood?
I needed a small dint in my car’s mudguard repaired under insurance. The company insuring the car advertises daily on television but is virtually uncontactable by telephone. The excuse that “we are experiencing busy times” repeated over and over while one spends half a morning trying to get service, does not wash. The need to keep pressing numbers, which are supposed to lead to the source of help, results in further inane messages.
This pattern of non-service is, I find, repeated not just by insurance companies but government agencies as well. May I suggest that the company in question spend some of their advertising cost on staff to answer telephone calls.
Bruce Love, East Melbourne

Admin outsourced
The last decade’s trend of pushing out the admin to the customer has become a tidal wave. Computerisation was initially held up as a brilliant way to cut costs and time wasted – something that would apparently benefit everyone. Instead it’s the corporations who have cut costs by delegating admin to their customers. Now we have to spend 30 minutes replying to robots, printing, scanning, filling out, and emailing computer forms for multiple situations that used to take a five-minute phone call (or you’d just turn up with your referral/ID etc and the office staff would do the rest), while the big corporations make billions in profits.
Sharyn Belcher, Mulgrave

Care for doctors
Concerning suicide within the profession, (“Breaking silence on young medicos at risk”, The Age, 17/5), it has always surprised me that hospitals don’t establish liaison officers whose specific task is to support risk-averse doctors and to document and assist in suicide prevention. Colleges could do their part in addressing and workshopping suicidal risk scenarios and work-related depression and anxiety but largely these are issues they have avoided. It is equally vital to deal with the toxic culture that has existed for many years in many postgraduate medical training programs. There should be stiff penalties for the initiators but there has been great reluctance to stamp this out.
Andrew Zbar, retired surgeon, Caulfield North

Enforce mask rule
It is a disgrace when conductors on V/Line trains ruefully tell me that they are not able to enforce mask-wearing, even though this is a regulation which is announced at the outset of every journey, an announcement increasingly being ignored by passengers. Please let conductors be given stronger powers or at least stronger encouragement by V/Line to incentivise mask-wearing. Does the average citizen think that COVID is no longer a danger? Perhaps conductors could be issued with a kit containing a mask and some information. If the person refuses it, then what?
David Kram, Malmsbury

And another thing

Illustration: Matt GoldingCredit:

Political leadership
Instead of voting for a PM who is promising to change, wouldn’t it be better to change the PM?
Hans Paas, Castlemaine

Scott Morrison wants to cut the public service that helped Australia get through the pandemic – what about claiming back his overpayments to ineligible JobKeeper companies first?
John Boyce, Richmond

Jobs, jobs, jobs except for public servants.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo

Scott Morrison shows when it is a race when he campaigns in a frenzy for his own re-election.
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

As they hit the home straight Renewable Boost is a nose ahead of Steal From Super, with Cost of Living coming through on the rails…
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

I would vote for Anthony Albanese but not sure how long he will last with Shorten and Plibersek lurking in the background.
Bruce Clark, Box Hill South

Does anyone know what is the average number of miracles politicians can expect?
Joan Segrave, Healesville

Housing
Most pensioners like me can’t afford to downsize and lose our pensions. Or then compete for the first home buyer’s style of house. A no-win.
Michael McKenna, Warragul

To give Scott Morrison credit he has already facilitated lots of cheap houses and land, unfortunately they are on the climate change flood plains at Lismore.
Rob Ward, Lake Tyers Beach

How much superannuation will young people have left after accessing it during the pandemic?
Michael McKenna, Warragul

“A bit of a bulldozer”. Really? I think the PM’s more like a wrecking ball when it comes to his policy on using super for housing.
Lisa Bishop, Macleod

Finally
I would have voted sooner … but rather like sausages! And the thrill of it all.
Myra Fisher, Brighton East

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