CANBERRA, AAP – Labor is seeking to turn the election focus to housing with a policy to support first-home buyers in regional areas.
The policy announcement came as a new analysis of Newspoll figures showed support among 35 to 49-year-olds for the Liberal-National coalition dropped seven points to 29 per cent, while Labor rose five points to 44 per cent.
The average age of first-home buyers is 36, meaning Labor’s pitch is likely to find fertile ground ahead of an expected May election.
Places in the housing scheme would be reserved for people who have lived in a region for more than a year.
It would allow people to have just a five per cent deposit, with a Labor government guaranteeing the other 15 per cent, removing the need to pay for mortgage insurance. The policy could result in a saving of up to $32,000 for 10,000 Australians.
Property price caps would be in place to determine how much financial support the government would provide to home buyers.
“Labor wants the great Australian dream to stay alive – I want people to be able to access home ownership, whilst also supporting people by increasing the supply of housing,” Labor leader Anthony Albanese said on Friday.
Mr Albanese said the announcement should also be seen in the context of Labor’s Housing Australia Future Fund and commitments on social and emergency housing.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced record funding for support and research on endometriosis, a condition affecting one in nine Australian women.
He says the $58 million package will help create a better health future for women and girls in Australia.
The coalition has a way to go in winning over female votes, with the Newspoll analysis showing Labor leads in the women’s primary vote 40 per cent to the coalition’s 34 per cent.
There has also been a 12-point drop for the coalition among voters with an annual household income above $150,000.
Meanwhile, former senator Nick Xenophon believes the political climate is right for the return of centrist candidates, following the announcement he is making a fresh tilt for the upper house.
Almost five years after he resigned from the Senate amid uncertainty over whether he was a dual citizen, Mr Xenophon has announced he will stand at the next federal election.
“I’ve tried being a political hermit, I did that for four years and didn’t work out … the culture in Canberra has gotten worse, it’s more toxic,” he told ABC Radio on Friday.
“I like to think that from a political centre, I can make a positive contribution.”
Mr Xenophon said he held off from announcing his intention to make a political comeback until after South Australia’s state election so as not to confuse voters.
The former senator previously ran for state parliament in 2018 with his SA Best Party, but failed to win a single seat.
He said last weekend’s defeat of the Liberal government after one term was telling.
“It was defining in the sense that the Liberals ran a woeful campaign. I think there is space there in the political centre to represent people to advocate for them on issues that the major parties had ignored,” he said.
Independent senator Rex Patrick – a former adviser to Mr Xenophon who is up for re-election – says he won’t make an announcement about his future on Friday.
“I’ve been having many conversations about whether I should press on campaigning for a SA Senate seat or run for the federal seat of Grey,” he said in a statement.
“I’m thinking hard about what’s best for SA.”