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What we know today, Monday May 16

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies his government’s housing policies will push up prices, after his superannuation minister said the proposed first home buyers plan could lead to an initial price jump.

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PM at odds with minister over impact of first home buyer plan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies his government’s housing policies will push up prices even after his superannuation minister said the proposed first home buyers plan could lead to an initial price bump.

Morrison said the scheme, which allows first homeowners to access some of their super for a deposit, would work in combination with separate announcements to increase housing supply.

“The number one issue that forces up housing prices in this country is insufficient supply and this policy with the downsizing policy, the HomeBuilder policy, have all been about increasing that supply,” he told reporters in Ipswich.

But Superannuation Minister Jane Hume earlier said there would be an increase in house prices.

“I would imagine that there would be a lot of people that bring forward their decision to buy a house so I would imagine in the short term you might see a bump in house prices,” she told ABC Radio National on Monday.

“But that doesn’t play out the long term benefits of more home ownership, fewer people relying on rent … there are so many factors that play into the housing market.”

More than two million Australians have already cast their votes ahead of Saturday’s federal election as the prime minister makes a last-ditch effort to sway minds.

Campaigning in the Labor-held Queensland seat of Blair, Morrison said anyone opposing his housing plan did so because they don’t see superannuation as people’s own money.

“Our plan is about putting Australians in charge of their future with their own money,” he said.

“It’s their money, we’re not going to tell them what to do with it, they’ll make their own decisions.”

Yet Labor campaign spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said even Liberal stalwarts like John Howard, Peter Costello and Malcolm Turnbull opposed the policy in the past.

“You shouldn’t have to choose between housing today and poverty in old age,” she told the Seven Network on Monday.

Labor’s plan to tackle housing affordability would involve a government “help to buy” scheme where the government would provide an equity contribution for 10,000 low-income earners.

Morrison’s policy includes a requirement for homeowners to return the initial super amount withdrawn plus an equivalent proportion of the capital gain or loss when they eventually sell the house.

But the prime minister dodged questions about what would happen if the housing market crashed and people needed to sell at a loss, losing their super investment simultaneously.

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees said the coalition’s plan would drive up house prices and undermine the core purpose of the super system.

“Using super as a deposit will drive up property prices, leaving Australians with higher debt and depleted retirement savings,” the institute’s chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said.

“Superannuation … is not a piggy bank the government can open at its convenience to avoid dealing with the real systemic issues facing first home buyers.”

Labor leader Anthony Albanese is campaigning in Perth today.

Scott Morrison launches campaign by promising to shift gears

PM makes re-election pitch

10 News First Adelaide – Disclaimer

Channel Ten

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched the Liberals’ election campaign vowing to change his governing style as the country moves on from the pandemic, with a policy to allow first-home buyers to dip into their retirement savings as one of his key re-election pitches.

Launching the campaign in Queensland – one of only two states in which Roy Morgan polling shows the Coalition is in front – Morrison said a re-elected Coalition government would take a “very different approach” to governing compared to that seen over the past three years.

“We stand on the edge of a new era of opportunity. Better days are now ahead. But we cannot take them for granted,” the Prime Minister told the audience of about 300 party faithfuls at the Brisbane Convention Centre on Sunday.

“I also know Australians, they’re tired of politics. It’s been an exhausting time and they’ve certainly had enough of governments telling them how to live their lives, and I agree.

“If re-elected, you will see me as your Prime Minister, our government and our nation hit that extra gear needed to secure our nation’s future for those better days, to make things truly better, to step up beyond where we are today and put this pandemic behind us.”

Although much of the campaign launch was focused on the past, including the rolling out of JobKeeper, the creation of new trade apprenticeships and the decline in unemployment, Morrison spent the second half of his speech detailing a “big plan” for the future.

“I’m seeking a second term because I’m just warming up,” he said to raucous applause.

The Coalition hoped to use the campaign launch to shore up support after recent polling pointed to an expected defeat next Saturday.

The standout announcement was a Coalition pledge to allow first-home buyers to unlock up to 40 per cent of their superannuation, up to a maximum value of $50,000, to use as a deposit on a home.

Called the Super Home Buyer Scheme, the policy would apply to new and existing homes, with the invested amount and a share of any capital gain to be returned to home buyers’ superannuation funds once they sell their property.

The policy idea was previously spruiked by Liberal MPs including Tim Wilson, who is at risk of defeat in his seat of Goldstein, but it failed to get up under former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Stephanie Richards/The New Daily

Labor slams ‘full-frontal assault’ on superannuation system  

Federal Labor and the superannuation industry have attacked the government’s new policy allowing first-home buyers to dip into their superannuation to get into the housing market.

Labor housing spokesperson Jason Clare said the policy to allow first home buyers to access 40 per cent of their superannuation, up to $50,000, for a deposit would drive up prices and hurt young Australians. Former prime minister and superannuation architect Paul Keating called it a “full-frontal assault” on the system.

Clare branded the policy “a last desperate act from a dying government”.

“This would be like adding kerosene to a fire. Their super will supercharge the property prices,” he said.

“You shouldn’t have to raid your super to buy a home.”

Clare also raised past opposition to similar schemes by Liberal stalwarts John Howard and Peter Costello as well as Malcolm Turnbull and Mathias Cormann.

“John Howard said super is for retirement, and he’s right,” Clare said.

“That last great generation of Liberal leaders who could count – Howard, Costello, Turnbull, Cormann – have all reached the conclusion that this policy won’t work.”

Morrison said the policy would put Australians in charge of their own superannuation and give people retirement security.

“The evidence shows that the best thing we can do to help Australians achieve financial security in their retirement is to help them own their own home,” he said.

But the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees said the coalition’s plan would drive up house prices and undermine the core purpose of the super system.

“Using super as a deposit will drive up property prices, leaving Australians with higher debt and depleted retirement savings,” AIST CEO Eva Scheerlinck said.

“Superannuation … is not a piggy bank the government can open at its convenience to avoid dealing with the real systemic issues facing first home buyers.”

A McKell Institute report points to a $45,352 increase in the median house price in Sydney and by almost $100,000 in Brisbane, under the policy.

Fire at CBD apartment building prompts evacuation

About 100 people have been evacuated after a fire in the basement of an apartment building on North Terrace in the Adelaide CBD this morning.

Emergency services were called to an accommodation building on North Terrance, near Frome Street, around 5am this morning after the Metropolitan Fire Service received an automatic fire alarm notification.

“MFS firefighters arrived to find a fire in the basement and upgraded resources to nine fire trucks and 36 firefighters,” an MFS spokesperson said.

“MFS firefighters assisted the evacuation of about 100 people while extinguishing the blaze in under 25 minutes and containing the fire to the basement.

“Damage to the basement is minimal as the fire occurred in a concreted area.”

No one was injured in the blaze, police said, with crime scene investigators attending the scene this morning.

Two teens killed in Athelstone crash

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a car crash in Athelstone which claimed the lives of two teenagers on Sunday.

Police say they were called to Montacute Road in Athelstone just before 2pm on Sunday due to reports a Holden Sedan had left the road and crashed into a tree.

Both the driver of the car, a 17-year-old male from Rostrevor, and his passenger, a 17-year-old male from Athelstone, died at the scene.

Montacute Road has since reopened to traffic after being closed for several hours on Sunday.

Major Crash officers are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fatal crash, police said.

It brings South Australia’s road toll this year to 30, compared to 40 at the same point in 2021.

Finland and Sweden announce intention to join NATO

Finland and Sweden have both decided to apply for membership of NATO, setting aside decades of effective neutrality in light of growing concerns for their own security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“A new era is beginning,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö said alongside Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Sunday, announcing a step that the two leaders called historic.

After Finland’s announcement, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson’s governing Social Democrats also announced its support for Swedish membership of NATO following a specially-convened meeting on Sunday. The move marks a major shift in their position on the defence alliance.

However, Sweden’s Social Democrats have indicated they want neither nuclear weapons nor permanent NATO bases on their territory.

The party’s policy switch comes in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has triggered a rethink on NATO membership in both countries.

“We are faced with a fundamentally changed security environment in Europe,” Andersson said.

“The essential question for us is how best to protect Sweden and the Kremlin has shown that it is prepared to use force to achieve its political goals.”

Finland, meanwhile, is keen to avoid another conflict with Russia, with which it shares a border of around 1300 kilometres.

“We have had wars with Russia, and we don’t want that kind of future for ourselves, for our children, and this is why we’re making these decisions today and in the upcoming weeks, so there will never again be a war,” the Finnish premier said.

“When we look at Russia, we see a very different kind of Russia today than we saw just a few months ago. Everything changed when Russia attacked Ukraine,” Marin said.

“I personally think that we cannot trust any more that there will be a peaceful future.”

In a telephone call with Niinistö on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin described Finland’s planned accession to NATO as a mistake.

According to the Kremlin, Russia does not pose a threat to its Nordic neighbour and Finland’s departure from its long-standing neutrality would lead to a deterioration in relations. However, Niinistö also stressed that no direct threats were made.

Adelaide United reach A-League semi-finals

Bernardo Oliveira celebrates a goal during the A-League Elimination Final between Adelaide United and the Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium on Sunday. Photo: Matt Turner/AAP

Adelaide United has booked a semi-final clash with Melbourne City after a thrilling 3-1 elimination final victory over Central Coast Mariners at Coopers Stadium on Sunday.

The Reds were made to work hard for the win with the Mariners looking the more likely at times during the clash, pushing Adelaide right until the end.

United will now face minor premier Melbourne City at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night before the second leg in Melbourne on Sunday.

Coach Carl Veart heaped praise on his side, saying he was always comfortable with how the game unfolded.

“It was a bit of a stretched game, that’s the way Central Coast play,” he said.

“They push a lot of numbers forward and I think we limited the opportunities they had to get in behind us.

“It’s finals football, it’s always on a knife’s edge, it can go either way and our boys were tremendous.”

Adelaide attacked straight from the kick-off but once the Mariners settled, they gained control of the match and pushed the Reds back.

United eventually worked their way back into the contest and the two sides traded blows before the Reds broke the deadlock on 26 minutes.

A strong interception from Aleksandar Popovic saw the young stopper storm out defence before supplying a through ball to Craig Goodwin.

The Reds winger latched onto the pass, after it had wrong-footed Central Coast defender Cameron Windust, and slid his first-time effort past the on-rushing goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.

United doubled their advantage on 66 minutes after a well-worked passage.

Isaias played a first-time, long ball out wide on the left to Goodwin, who whipped in a perfect cross for Kusini Yengi to side-foot home from close range.

The Mariners pulled one back just four minutes later thanks to substitute Storm Roux, and Central Coast pushed for an equaliser but in stoppage time the Reds scored a third courtesy of Bernardo.

It was Isaias who was once again supplying the pass out from midfield with Bernardo’s first touch taking it past his defender before driving towards goal and firing low and hard from the outside of the area, wrong-footing Birighitti.

– With AAP, The New Daily and Reuters

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