Tuesday 18 November, 2014

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (16:07): Broadly, today I will speak in support of the Stamp Duties (Off-the-plan Apartments) Amendment Bill. I will support the bill, firstly, because I think it is necessary to support a struggling construction sector. We have heard comments from the Property Council of Australia recently in support of this, but one thing I will note from the report that I have in front of me from 2010-11 is that the property industry is South Australia's largest private sector industry adding $8.1 billion to the state's economy in 2010-11.

It generates 10 per cent of the state's gross economic product and, of even greater importance, the property sector is also the state's second largest employer after the public sector, employing 73,000 South Australians. I have them in my electorate and, if they are not their own proprietors, they are employing people. I talk to these small to medium business owners, especially in the construction sector, and they are all struggling at the moment. The margins are thin, the work is slowing down and we need to support them, and so I will certainly support any incentive that gets behind the struggling construction sector.

Secondly, as the member for Schubert pointed out, I believe this is also going to be positive for inner-city traders. Again, with the ones who are struggling at the moment, I think if we can support them that would also be beneficial and have wider implications for the rest of the state. Thirdly, I will also be supporting it because I think we have to try to keep people in South Australia. We need an incentive for young people to want to invest in South Australia. We need an incentive for young people to buy in South Australia, to buy houses in South Australia and to stay in South Australia.

I am running out of friends from university. Do you know why? Not because I am unpopular but because they are leaving, they are going interstate, because the jobs are not here and the opportunities just do not seem to be here like they were. I think we as policymakers and lawmakers need to incentivise our youth especially in these days of rising property prices. If we can incentivise them to stay here, then why not?

Fourthly, it is also important for a vibrant city—and we have heard those arguments time and time again. If you have more people in the city and if you have more people coming into the city, that also flows onto other parts of the economy, and it makes more opportunities and prospects for things like public transport in the city. If you have more people in that central business district that is a good thing.

I was reading a paper recently with regard to the inner-city model. This is not the way out forever, but I think in the short term we should all be focusing on creating a sustainable inner city model where businesses can grow and residents can prosper, but not only into the city, we want to grow them so that they can then export out of that central model. There has to be that little bit of, I suppose, economic self-interest. Without that economic self-interest where is the incentive to invest? Where is the incentive to grow? There has to be a genuine competitive advantage. I think this is a good initiative that will at least start that.

In terms of criticism, you could always criticise this bill as well. The main criticism that I would like to make on it, and to be as constructive as possible, is that it does not go far enough, it definitely does not go far enough. The Housing Industry Association has indicated that whilst it does support and welcome any stamp duty relief, it should be extended to other areas. So, I say to the government: go out to consultation, talk to a few more groups and if there is opportunity in the budget moving forward I think we should do this for more than just multi-unit apartments because I note that they only make up around one-quarter of new constructions, and industry conditions are certainly very tough.

When the government introduced the Stamp Duties (Off-the-plan Apartments) Amendment Bill in 2014, I was keen to look at it. I note that it does introduce the legislative amendments to extend the stamp duty concession for apartments bought off the plan. There are always arguments concerning the extent of that zone, and we have heard some very good ones from the member for Bragg. At the end of the day, we do need to, at least initially, draw a boundary somewhere. Perhaps that could be reviewed down the track.

I think that, all in all, this bill does go to the heart of creating a much more vibrant city. I think it is a much-needed aid for the property sector that we should all be supporting. I commend the bill to the house.