Bill fights for first home owners

HINCHINBROOK MP Nick Dametto will carry the hopes and dreams of rural and regional Queenslanders into battle against the State Labor Government as he fights to expand the First Home Owners’ Grant.

After a relentless 12 month lobbying campaign, the Katter’s Australian Party MP has kicked off the process of drafting amendments to the existing First Home Owner Grant Act 2000, which would reinstate the grant for existing homes but specifically target rural and regional areas.

“There are thousands of Queenslanders outside of metropolitan areas who would stand to benefit from an expansion of the grant,” Mr Dametto said.

“If you live outside of metropolitan Queensland, you would be hard pressed to find expanding communities in rural and regional Queensland where there is a large, new housing market. There is already a substantial oversupply of established homes which could become more affordable to first home owners with the help of the grant.”

Mr Dametto said he was under no illusions about the challenges his Bill could face in parliament to even be introduced, but was “determined to fight for this game-changing policy”.

“Because the Bill will likely require an increase of an appropriation from the consolidated revenue fund, the path to seeing it debated in parliament could be extremely difficult. But if there’s a chance of success I’ll take it. There are thousands of rural and regional Queenslanders who need this,” he said.

“If Labor has any chance of rebuilding credibility with rural and regional Queenslanders, then they would be helping people achieve the dream of first home ownership and use their majority to support this Bill. They know there isn’t any new housing development popping up in these areas and expanding the grant to existing homes would reduce this negative market saturation by helping people own their own home sooner.”

Under Mr Dametto’s proposed amendments to the Act, first home owners would be able the use the current $15,000 First Home Owners’ Grant to purchase an existing, detached home under $300,000 in rural and regional Queensland.

The same $15,000 grant would also be available for improvements when purchasing an existing, detached first home under $300,000 in rural and regional Queensland.

Prospective first home owners who qualify would be able to choose one of those options but not both.

“This Bill is a common sense solution to a prevalent problem and it’s time the government chipped in to help rural and regional Queensland’s property market bounce back, especially after the recent drought and flooding events,” Mr Dametto said.

Mr Dametto said he had been contacted by several prospective first home owners who were extremely supportive of his proposal.

“What these young families are telling me is that because the grant currently applies to new homes only, they are forced to rent at rates that can be in excess of $350 a week. Yet there are perfectly good established homes where the loan repayments are only $300 a week or under which would be within reach for these families if they could get access to the grant to help with a deposit,” he said.

“Should this Bill not succeed, I will continue to lobby the government strongly to expand the grant in next year’s Budget. 2020 is an election year and voters should think carefully about who is backing policies like this, which look to stimulate regional and rural Queensland.

“Katter’s Australian Party will always fight for a better deal for anyone striving to get ahead.”

Nick Dametto MP