Finance Property Revealed: the Turnbull government ministers who could benefit from negative gearing rules

Revealed: the Turnbull government ministers who could benefit from negative gearing rules

Two thirds of Malcolm Turnbull's cabinet own investment properties.
Two thirds of Malcolm Turnbull's cabinet own investment properties. Photo: AAP
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

More than two-thirds of cabinet ministers in the Turnbull government own investment properties, the register of members’ interests reveals.

Excluding those ministers who own their investment properties outright, that means around half of all senior ministers could be benefitting from negative gearing rules.

This follows the release of damning evidence that the government misled the public about the effects of abolishing negative gearing in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

On Monday, a freedom of information request lodged by the ABC two years ago revealed the government had been significantly exaggerating the potential detrimental effects of abolishing negative gearing and capital gains tax breaks on investment properties.

The documents show the government’s own advisers in Treasury informed them that abolishing these two policies would have a “small” effect on house prices – contrary to what the government went on to argue.

With the government’s motivations under intense scrutiny, The New Daily decided to trawl through the register of interests of the Turnbull government’s 23 cabinet ministers to see what their personal interests in the current regime are.

The results were startling. Of those 23 cabinet members, a clear majority – 16 – own at least one investment property.

Of those 16, the majority have mortgages on their investment properties, meaning they are likely to make use of negative gearing rules to reduce their taxable income.

Who are the property tycoons in cabinet?

By far the biggest property owner in the Turnbull cabinet is Malcolm Turnbull himself. He and his wife together own nine properties, four of which they class as investment properties.

However, Mr Turnbull does not disclose any mortgage debt, meaning he owns all the properties outright. This makes it highly unlikely he benefits from negative gearing rules – though he will benefit from the 50 per cent discount on capital gains tax if he sells those properties.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop owns two investment properties, alongside one residential property. She discloses two home loans, meaning at least one of the investment properties is geared.

Senior ministers Steven Ciobo and Julie Bishop both own geared investment properties.
Senior ministers Steven Ciobo and Julie Bishop both own geared investment properties.

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann each own one geared investment property, while Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer owns one investment property on which she has no debt.

Having no debt matters because you can only make use of negative gearing rules if you make a net loss on an investment property. You are only likely to make a loss if you are making mortgage payments on that property.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne has one geared investment property. However, a spokesperson for Mr Pyne told The New Daily he did not use negative gearing rules to offset any losses on this property.

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton has four investment properties, but discloses no debt on these, which suggests he owns them outright.

Minister for Jobs Michaelia Cash has one geared investment property, as does Minister for Resources Matthew Canavan.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield registers two investment properties which he joint owns with his siblings. He does not disclose any debt on these.

Minister for Regional Development John McVeigh has one geared investment property, while Education Minister Simon Birmingham and Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan each have two.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud has one investment property held in his self-managed super fund, while Minister for Rural Health and Sport Bridget McKenzie says she has one investment property and no residential property – but later reports that she has a mortgage on a residential property, but not an investment property.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, meanwhile, reports owning one “office rental” property.

The seven ministers who do not own investment properties are: Treasurer Scott Morrison, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, Defence Minister Marise Payne, Attorney-General Christian Porter, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation Michael Keenan, and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion.

Malcolm Turnbull and Kelly O'Dwyer
Malcolm Turnbull and Kelly O’Dwyer both own their investment properties outright.

The New Daily contacted each of the ministers who own investment properties to ask them if they made use of negative gearing rules. Only Mr Pyne’s office responded.

A Treasury spokesperson told The New Daily that Mr Morrison, the minister in charge of negative gearing and capital gains tax policy, was on leave and could not comment.

The spokesperson pointed to comments made early on Monday by Ms O’Dwyer, in which she reaffirmed the government’s position.

“Treasury’s advice confirms what we’ve been saying all along, that to have a permanent tax hike – which is what Labor’s proposing – to increase capital gains tax by 50 per cent and to remove negative gearing would have a disastrous impact when combined with weakness in the housing market and that’s what the documents reveal.”

View Comments