Builders praise stamp duty relief for first-time buyers

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THE number of housing loans taken out by first-home buyers in the ACT is increasing and local Master Builders CEO Michael Hopkins says this has been influenced by the local government’s decision to remove stamp duty.

Master Builders CEO Michael Hopkins

He said new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics illustrated that the decision to remove stamp duty has had a “positive” and “immediate” impact on the number of first-home buyers.

“Since the policy’s commencement on July 1, the number of first-home buyer owner-occupier loans has increased from 22.8 per cent to 27.4 per cent,” he said.

“The ACT is well positioned in comparison to other jurisdictions in the ABS figures which detail that 28.7 per cent of owner occupier home loans went to first-home buyers Australia wide, the highest rate since early 2012.

“First-home buyer loans in the ACT at 27.4 per cent compare with NSW at 27.6 per cent, Queensland at 26.2 per cent and SA at 22.5 per cent.

“The ACT government collects 49.5 per cent of its total tax take from real estate taxes, making the construction industry a pivotal component of the local economy.”

Last week Mr Hopkins was bemoaning that Canberra’s building work approvals are experiencing the largest decline nationally with a 76.9 per cent drop compared to last year, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

He said Canberra’s strong population growth and economic fundamentals traditionally buffered the local building industry from national declines, however, local factors including delays in the ACT’s development approval system were now weighing heavily on the local industry.

“For the past 12 months members have reported that the time taken to receive a development approval in the ACT is taking longer, with delays of up to 10 months not uncommon,” he said. 

Mr Hopkin said accountability indicators for the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate released with the 2019-20 ACT Budget showed 39 per cent of development application decisions were made within statutory timeframes.

Today, Mr Hopkins foreshadowed a possible scrap with the government next year.

“Looking ahead, the MBA expects that taxes, rates, fees and charges on the property and construction sector, which will affect our members, will be a significant issue in next year’s ACT election,” he said.

“We will be working with our members to identify other areas for tax reform that we can take to the government to discuss.”

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