Bill Shorten has warned he won’t take lectures from “the multi-millionaires club” on negative gearing as the Morrison government stopped short of endorsing claims the policy was a nuclear bomb that could spark a recession.
The Labor leader is yet to announce a start date for the policy and there are concerns it may not secure passage in the Senate.
But the ALP urged voters not to listen to warnings from Aussie Home Loans founder John Symond.
It follows similar criticism from Seven Network executive Bruce McWilliam, who owns a $200 million property portfolio.
“When I notice a barrage of criticism from the multi-millionaires club who make their business models out of negative gearing, which means their wealth is being subsidised by taxpayers, I simply say it’s not fair in the future,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.
“It’s not fair for first-home buyers not to be able to get support when they are going for a house and they’ve got to compete on an un-level playing field with someone who might be buying their fifth or sixth investment property being subsidised by the taxpayer.”
Just a year ago, Mr Symonds endorsed changes to negative gearing.
— Stephen Koukoulas (@TheKouk) November 17, 2018
Earlier, the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg declined to endorse warnings the policy could spark a recession.
“As the Treasurer I am very careful about using that particularly word, but I will say it will cost jobs. It will hurt the economy,” Mr Frydenberg said.
Mr Shorten’s comments follow Mr Symond’s warning Labor’s negative gearing reforms are a “hand grenade” that could tip Australia into recession.
“I appreciate that they say they’ll grandfather existing investors, but the unintended consequences would be astronomical,” Mr Symonds said.
“I am concerned that it would do so much damage – unemployment, higher interest rates – it could tip us into recession.”
But Labor treasury spokesman Chris Bowen claimed it was “all a bit embarrassing for the new Treasurer, trying to walk and lie at the same time”.
“Mr Frydenberg got pinned today on Today running his normal scare campaign on Labor’s reforms on falling house prices, only to run into the reality that house prices have fallen significantly on his watch,” Mr Bowen said.
“Despite tweeting and referring to John Symond’s extreme, ridiculous and contradictory claims over Labor’s reforms, not even Mr Frydenberg would endorse his claims that Labor’s reforms would lead to a recession.
“This morning, Deloitte senior economist Chris Richardson contradicted John Symond, saying that Labor’s reforms were “definitely non-nuclear” and while they would have an impact, it “doesn’t matter if they’re good or bad policy, they’re not huge policy. That’s the thing that people keep forgetting. The Australian housing market is $7 trillion where the values or claim of rental properties are $11 billion a year on the tax system. The lever is too tiny.”
Mr Bowen said Labor was committed to “levelling the playing field so all Australians can aspire and realise the dream of owning their own home”.