PM’s plan ‘another handout to the rich’
Battlers who will miss out on the new $25,000 HomeBuilder grant have lashed the Prime Minister for the "outrageous" handouts to the wealthy.
As the Morrison Government outlined the generous new scheme to protect construction jobs, single mum Kath Whyte, 54, told news.com.au she was gutted to hear about the scheme.
The former aged care worker has been out of work for several years despite moving to Sydney to try and find a job.
"It's outrageous. Don't you have to be spending $150,000 on renovations? It's another handout for the wealthy. Around here nobody would be eligible. I just think that's the way the government operates and it's shameful."
Under the scheme, couples with a combined income of $200,000 can secure a $25,000 grant to build a new home or for major renovations but only if the contract is worth more than $150,000.
Ms Whyte, a mother of three boys, said she had spent years living in substandard housing on low wage jobs and welfare.
At one point, she was forced to live with her ex-husband simply to make ends meet because they could not afford to run two houses.
"When we lived in two properties it was dire poverty,'' she said.
"I lived with my ex-partner under the same roof after we broke up because we were broke basically.
"One house the roof leaked so badly when it rained there would be a foot of water on the ground. My oldest son, who was 14 at the time, said 'I can't live in a house like that. It was not a safe house'.
"I managed with food. It was a relief when my son got an apprenticeship because as a chef he used to bring stuff home. But it was things like clothes and shoes, stuff for the kids. It's exhausting. It was terrible."
Ms Whyte moved to Sydney to try and retrain after a devastating car crash.
"I don't really want to be separated from my kids. I just don't know I will ever be employable again,'' she said.
"I have arthritis. I have been doing aged care and disability work for the last eight years."
Ms Whyte said as a woman in her mid-50s relying on Centrelink payments who does not own her own home her real fear was becoming homeless, not worrying about $150,000 renovations.
"My fears are about joining the many women my age who are homeless. The building grant money should be spent on social housing,'' she said
"It's because of housing costs, they have gone up so much.
"My credit card hasn't been under $9000 in years. It's this bizarre cycle where I actually need the credit card. I am just paying interest."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended the $150,000 threshold for renovations today.
Asked if it was designed to avoid a "Pink Batts" saga, when Labor's handouts for insulation during the global financial crisis ended in workplaces deaths, Mr Morrison said: "That is right, that is a big part of the reason".
"We're looking at the big renovations, so where people are making major structural changes," he said.
"That's bringing more jobs in, more tradies in. And all of this has to go through the proper processes."
Labor leader Anthony Albanese, who grew up in public housing, said not many people had $150,000 lying around during a period of economic uncertainty.
"That's a pretty decent renovation to your bathroom or to your kitchen. I got a bathroom renovation not too long ago. Let me tell you, it wasn't 150 grand."
Labor's housing spokesman Jason Clare said the PM had let tradies down.
"Remember, at the start of this week they talked about 'renovation rescue'?,'' he said.
"All of this hype about renovations, how you're going to be able to renovate your kitchen and renovate your bathrooms. It turns out it's all rubbish. There's not many Australian battlers who have a lazy $150,000 to renovate their bathroom or the kitchen. It reminds of the movie the wizard of Oz.Turns out it is not that big and powerful at all."
Originally published as PM's plan 'another handout to the rich'