Mixed blessings

Sue Green

THE Australian housing industry did not find the boost it had hoped for in the Australian budget but the burden it had most feared was also missing.

Despite an intensive campaign by the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA), the government did not implement its election promise to allow all Australians access to the superannuation for use as a home deposit.

Instead, it said access would be limited, with the conditions under which withdrawals would be allowed yet to be determined.

It plans a series of industry consultations to ensure the funds released are ''appropriately targeted''.

REIA president Grahame Werrell, was disappointed at the decision, accusing the government of reneging on its undertaking.

Mr Werrell also said the budget was bad news for homebuyers because it signalled the bottom of official interest rates, with its indirect tax increases to push inflation up and the current excellent affordability levels unlikely to continue.

The housing industry had feared building materials would be included in the wholesale sales tax net and there were pre-budget predictions of rises in the cost of new homes.

Although the government announced a phased in two per cent rise in that tax, building materials remain exempt at this stage.

That exemption is a relief for the commercial property sector, hard hit through high vacancy rates and bottoming prices.

Such a tax would have prolonged a recovery in office building.