Peter Costello

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Labor'€™s Benefit for Sydneysiders '€“ No-One Else Need Apply



The citizens of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, ACT, Northern Territory, as well as people from regional towns in New South Wales will all be discriminated against under a Labor proposal to introduce a new benefit which will only be available to residents of Sydney but no-one else.

Two weeks ago Mr Latham announced a new Labor policy to increase the First Home Owners Grant by $5000 for Sydneysiders who work in "essential services", and he named police officers, nurses, childcare workers and teachers as eligible categories (Sunday Telegraph, 3 August, 2003).

This is bad policy for three main reasons:-

  1. A bureaucratic nightmare - What is classed as an essential service? Which occupations do not consider themselves to be essential services? Why are childcare workers essential and ambulance drivers not? What about workers in water, gas and electricity? Food? Builders? Taxi drivers?

  2. The scheme is unfunded - Treasury estimate the cost of the scheme (for the present cohort of first homebuyers in Mr Latham's selected occupations in Sydney) as being between $50-$100m. Mr Latham's supposed offset comes to the grand total of $1.5m per annum. The massive cost adds to Labor's Budget Black Hole from its $500m health shortfall, $300m education shortfall, and $700m Coastguard shortfall.

  3. Why should Sydneysiders get a benefit that the rest of Australia is ineligible to apply for? Why should the citizens of Perth, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Adelaide, Wagga, Ballarat, Alice Springs, Dubbo, Toowoomba etc, not to mention every farmer in Australia, be paying for a benefit that none of them and none of their children can apply for?

Mr Latham's "policy" smacks of the sort of "economic" thinking that led to previously ridiculed proposals like the PET tax and the GST exemption zones.


13 August 2003


14 Aug 2003

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