Negative gearing debate to be revived at meeting of state and federal treasurers

Katharine Murphy Political editor
The states will brief about the measures they are taking to help first-home buyers and Victoria will push for land supply to be increased. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Housing affordability is set to dominate a meeting of state and federal treasurers in Canberra, with the states briefing about measures they have taken to try and help first-home buyers, and at least one state intent on reviving the debate about negative gearing and capital gains tax reform.

With the Turnbull government intending to use the looming budget to unveil new housing affordability measures, Victoria is expected to use Friday’s meeting to press for more to be done to boost land supply.

It will also press the federal treasurer, Scott Morrison, to seriously consider reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax system.

The Victorian government recently unveiled a shared equity trial and the abolition of stamp duty for homes under $600,000 in an effort to boost affordability.

The meeting will also be given an update on work being done by the government’s affordable housing taskforce, which is developing a bond aggregator.

Under the bond aggregator model, the commonwealth would raise up to $200m through government bonds, which could be used to give loans to community housing providers or the private sector to provide social or affordable housing.

As well as the housing discussion, Friday’s meeting will be briefed by the chair of the government’s fintech advisory group, which is pushing innovation in the financial services sector.

A spokesman for Morrison said there would be a discussion about digital disruption and a presentation would be made on “Australia’s digital economy and the potential for governments to benefit and improve service delivery through the application of this technology.”

Earlier this week, the innovation minister, Arthur Sinodinos, argued that disruption was the new constant, and if Australia doesn’t acknowledge change, we risk “being overwhelmed and disadvantaged by it”.

Canberra will also brief the states on the structure and operation of the critical infrastructure centre, which manages security risks to Australia’s critical infrastructure.

Friday’s housing discussion follows the release of a new report which has warned the declining rate of home ownership in Australia is becoming so serious it could undermine the superannuation system.

The report, commissioned by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees, a peak lobby group for not-for-profit super funds, found that if present trends continue, fewer Australians will be able to support themselves in retirement without relying on the age pension.

The rate of home ownership in Australia, which peaked at about 73% in the mid-1960s, has declined to roughly 68%, with half of the decline occurring since 2001.

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