Late last year, I read a figure in this newspaper that still keeps me up at night.
That’s how long it’s taking home buyers in regional Australia to save for a deposit.
Citing research from the Australian National University and the ANZ CoreLogic Housing Affordability Report, it detailed how the time taken to save for a house deposit outside our major cities – 9.4 years, to be exact – was the longest on record.
At the latest print, it now takes the average home buyer in regional areas 11.1 years to save for a house deposit.
After almost a decade of neglect from the former Liberal government, I wasn’t surprised.
Even before taking on the job of Housing Minister, I knew that housing affordability was one of the biggest challenges facing our country.
For months, more and more people have been coming to my electorate office, talking to me about the struggle of trying to find an affordable home.
Safe and affordable housing is central to the security and dignity of all Australians, but years of inaction on policy at a federal level - combined with devastating floods and fires - have increased pressure on people living outside our big cities.
In a prosperous country like ours, it isn’t good enough.
That’s why the Albanese Labor Government is wasting no time in tackling the issue, starting with bringing forward our Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee.
Launching this weekend, this plan will help up to 10,000 regional Australians every year get into their first home with a deposit of as little as five per cent.
The Government will guarantee up to 15 per cent of the purchase price for eligible first home buyers, meaning regional Australians looking to buy can avoid paying costly mortgage insurance.
This is concrete action, taken by our new government to help get Australians into a home. And it’s targeted action, available only to locals who have been living in the region they want to buy in, or a neighbouring regional area, for at least one year.
I know it’s no silver bullet, but this targeted assistance is an important part of Labor’s ambitious plan to tackle the housing challenge we inherited.
Our Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee will work alongside programs such as our $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund and Help to Buy program to help ease pressure on people right across the country trying to find somewhere to call home.
The Albanese Labor Government will also establish a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council to ensure the Commonwealth plays a leadership role in increasing housing supply and improving housing affordability for Australians.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, but this weekend is the first step.
With this commitment, we can help slash that decade of saving by almost half, bringing the great Australian dream back into reach for many.