Ashleigh Gleeson February 25, 2022

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says house prices are rising, bluntly adding “that’s how the market works”, during an address to the building and construction industry.

Mr Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese each delivered speeches to the annual Master Builders National Leaders Election Summit on Friday that had to be held virtually due to Covid.

The Prime Minister said builders had been integral to Australia’s economic success because they had “kept moving” throughout the pandemic.

“We’ve seen dwelling approvals, new home sales, housing finance bounce back significantly, not just once but on number of occasions,” he said.

“More detached homes began construction in the year to September 2021 than any previous period since records began.”

He later spoke about the government’s homebuyer guarantee scheme, which helps people looking to buy a property for the first time get into the market without having to pay expensive lenders mortgage insurance.

There are different schemes that allow them to build a new home or buy an existing one.

About 300,000 people have used the schemes in the last three years.

“Now it hasn’t got easier to buy a home in any of our capital cities and particularly in an increasing number of regional areas,” Mr Morrison said.

“Prices have been going up.

“That’s how the market works.”

But Mr Morrison said the number of owner-occupier first-time buyers had risen from 100,000 a year to 170,000 a year.

The Prime Minister’s blunt assessment comes after the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data this week showed that wage growth rose 2.3 per cent compared to a year earlier, still well short of inflation at 3.5 per cent.

Mr Albanese told the summit that families were struggling to get by and wages weren’t keeping up with the cost of living.

He didn’t go into specifics of how he would fix that problem.

“The key to lifting that is productivity,” he said.

“The key to lifting that is making sure that we boost the economy and that we have appropriate policies in place.”

He said he would take the approach of “co-operation and working with people” if he was prime minister.

Mr Albanese said unions and employer organisations had a critical role to play in building Australia’s economy.

“As you know, one of the things that I’ve always done is say that there’s common interest between employers and employees,” he said.

“That’s why unions as well as employer organisations have such a critical role to play in building our economy.

“Common interest – that’s what we need more of, not division and chaos, which is what we’re seeing at the moment.”

Mr Albanese then spoke about a Labor policy to get tradies onto the tools by supporting construction of social housing.

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