The Labor Party’s housing plan is more important in its symbolism than the concrete numbers

But it is about more than the two new MPs from Western Australia that Federal Labor hopes to win on May 21 and the strong chance that a teal independent candidate can now defeat an incumbent MP in Curtin, the most state blue of old blue ribbon seats.

The theme of Albanese’s campaign is that all of Australia ‘can do better’. The real theme of the campaign is that an unpopular Morrison is not a Prime Minister who deserves re-election to give Australia ‘more of the same’.

Queensland may not be convinced by this, but the change in WA reflects the difficulties the Morrison government faces elsewhere, particularly when its claims to superior economic management are about to be put to the test. challenged by rising interest rates and inflation rising even faster.

“We are a team with the experience, the intellect, the compassion and, above all, the ambition to shape Australia’s future,” Albanese said. “Because deep down, that’s what it’s all about: a better future.”

A classic Labor launch

This better future hits all the usual Labor bases. This ranges from providing a little more money for everything from childcare to elder care to PBS drugs, to funding more free TAFE places, to returning manufacturing to the to do more to fight climate change, as well as a vague promise to raise real wages, with particular reference to “gender pay equity”.

But Labor essentially continues to play the ‘look over there’ political game, drawing attention to the Coalition’s failures and the community’s sense of discontent rather than risking too much Coalition backlash by announcing major labor reforms.

So even Albanese’s key new “buying aid” announcement at the Labor Party launch is more important in its symbolism than the hard numbers. The plan aims to help 10,000 low- and middle-income homebuyers enter the housing market each year by asking the government to take up to 40% equity in their home purchases.

These buyers will not pay interest or rent on the government’s share of their new homes. Instead, the government will supposedly get its money back, including its share of any capital gains, each time the property is sold – possibly decades later.

Morrison was quick to warn that a coalition government had “no plan to make money from people buying their own homes.”

The Coalition Government prefers to sell the benefits of its First Home Guarantee scheme – also backed by Labor – which allows 50,000 buyers a year to buy a new or existing home with a 5% down payment.

But the Labor Party appreciates that housing affordability is another highly sensitive political issue, with Albanese saying he wants to help more working families “achieve the great Australian dream”.

And despite the Coalition’s claim the Labor plan would involve Albanians “sitting at the kitchen table”, the proposal will hardly seem scary to voters in small states such as WA.

A state government-backed program to help first-time home buyers has operated in WA for more than three decades, for example, backed by successive governments.

The result is that about half of first-time buyers in the state initially take out their mortgages with financial institution Keystart because, like the federal labor plan, it only requires a 2% down payment.

But there are still important differences between the two diets. Just over 10% of WA buyers using Keystart involve the Federal Labor model of shared government ownership – typically around 30% – in their homes.

Most Keystart customers simply replace borrowing from a bank with borrowing from Keystart for the first few years until they can build up more equity themselves and thus become more attractive to banks.

Albanese’s emphasis on the shared capital model will certainly seem attractive to many excluded from the housing market due to prohibitive costs.

Even though the impending rise in interest rates is poised to cool house prices or even cause steep declines, the recurring pattern of extraordinary increases over the decades has made the prospect of home ownership property increasingly out of reach for a younger generation.

Yet helping 10,000 people a year is only a modest proportion of frustrated potential homeowners.

Nor will it help ease the pain ahead for all the buyers who have borrowed massive amounts of money and will now have to come up with a lot more money each month for the mortgage as interest rates start to come back to more normal levels.

To deal with this larger problem, the Coalition and Labor actually have a quietly bipartisan approach despite their loud promises. “To help!”

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