Anthony Albanese has declined to answer a question about his own real estate portfolio – instead directing his star performer Jason Clare to answer the question.
Mr Albanese stepped up behind Mr Clare after a fiery moment at a news conference on Tuesday, prompting some viewers to accuse him of “hiding” from scrutiny.
The Labor leader was asked whether property investors like himself should have their tax breaks taken away.
Instead of answering, Mr Albanese, who later said he owned two houses in Sydney and one in Canberra, called Mr Clare.
Anthony Albanese has allowed Labor frontbencher Jason Clare to ask questions on his behalf, leading some viewers to accuse him of “hiding”.
Mr Clare said: “Yes, sure. Albo can supplement. This isn’t about one person, is it? That’s the structural thing we have to deal with here.’
Mr Clare – who is the Shadow Housing Secretary – went on to offer a lengthy response to Labour’s Help To Buy policy.
Mr Albanese eventually stepped forward and said he owned two properties in Sydney and one in Canberra, but added: “This is not about a person.”
A Twitter user named Kate said: “Albo was asked straight out if he had sold two of his investment properties for which he receives tax breaks. Albo would not answer, stepping out of the way to get Jason Clare to answer.’
Another named Tony wrote: “Feels like he’s hiding behind @JasonClareMP who just went a lot of tangents to use up time.”
Mr Clare also answered several other questions about Labour’s co-ownership policy, under which the government would take a 40 per cent stake in people’s homes to help them up the ownership ladder.
Jason Clare is seen with his wife, one of his sons and former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating
Some viewers were pleased to see Jason Clare answer questions and praised the shadow housing minister
ANTHONY ALBANESE’S MULTI-MILLION REAL ESTATE EMPIRE
By Kevin Airs
February 1990: Leaves his mother’s community center in Camperdown and buys first home for $146,000
Aug 1995: The first house sold for $186,000, the second house on the same street was bought with future wife Carmel Tebbutt for $242,000 and sold for around $400,000 in 2001
December 1996: Unit in Barton, Canberra purchased for $162,000. Still owned.
Aug 2000: Newtown home bought for $646,000 with wife Tebbutt
April 2006: The current family home is purchased by the couple for $997,500
Aug 2006: Newtown home sold for $755,000
June 2012: Investment property the couple bought on the same street for $1.15M
November 2015: Mr. Albanese invests $1.175 million in Dulwich Hill townhouse
Aug 2019: Property adjustment at the family home after the end of Mr. Albanese’s marriage
Sept 2019: Ownership Adjustment of Investment Property
July 2021: Couple owned investment property sold for $2.35M
While some viewers said he was in charge, others said the performance showed Mr Albanese had a “great team” around him.
Liza Mill wrote: “JasonClareMP and AlboMP have complete control of the press this morning. It’s wonderful to watch. What a great team Albo has behind them.”
The father of two, Mr Clare, was lauded for his strong performance as a campaign spokesman, which led to him becoming leader one day.
He regularly inserts puns into his answers, and today accused Mr. Morrison of “talking more nonsense than a New York deli” and “doing more backflips than Nadia Comăneci,” the Romanian gymnast.
Mr Clare said the Help to Buy scheme would not send house prices skyrocketing as it is capped at 10,000 people a year.
Labour’s Help To Buy scheme requires the government to buy 40 per cent of a home to help up-and-coming buyers who otherwise could not afford the home.
It would only be available to couples earning less than $120,000 and singles earning less than $90,000.
Labor has now admitted that if anyone on the scheme starts earning above the threshold, they will have to buy out the government’s stake – or sell the house.
This also applies if the owner dies and the inheriting children earn more than the threshold.
Speaking on Sky News on Tuesday morning, Labor Deputy Leader Richard Marles confirmed that owners would have to sell if they were making over $90,000 and couldn’t afford to buy out the government.
“Now if they accumulate wealth during their lifetime, which means they no longer qualify for the program themselves, well, in those circumstances they would have to buy out the government,” he said.
“And that’s fair. So it puts them on the same level as everyone else who has funds.
“And so it would apply in relation to their children. Well, wealthy children want to keep the house in the family, that’s possible.’
Australian Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk in Brisbane on Monday
Host Peter Stefanovic asked: “What if they can’t afford it?” and Mr Marles replied: “You do not exercise that option, in which case the property would be sold.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison blasted the plan on Melbourne’s radio 3AW on Tuesday.
‘Anthony Albanese would put a for sale sign on your lawn. This is crazy,’ he said.
Finance Secretary Simon Birmingham also criticized the policy, telling Sky News: “If you die and your children make a few thousand dollars more, at that point Labor will force the sale of the family home.
“If you make a few thousand dollars more yourself in this home ownership deal with a Labor government, suddenly you have potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to come up with.”
Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said: “It was bad enough having Albanese at your kitchen table – now he’ll be sitting there at the reading of your will, waiting for his share of your family home.”
It comes as mortgage bills are expected to rise on the back of an expected rate hike on Tuesday.
HOW HELP WORK TO PURCHASING SYSTEM WORKS
Help to Buy is available to Australians with taxable income of up to US$90,000 for individuals and up to US$120,000 for couples.
Homebuyers must be Australian citizens and not currently own or be interested in a home. You don’t have to be a first home buyer.
Eligible homebuyers receive an equity contribution of up to 40 percent of the purchase price of a new home and up to 30 percent of the purchase price of an existing home.
The homebuyer must have a 2 percent down payment and qualify for a standard home loan with a participating lender to fund the remainder of the purchase.
During the term of the loan, the homebuyer can purchase a portion of the total government interest in the home if they are able to.
The homebuyer does not have to pay rent on the portion of the home owned by the federal government.
Labor expects the scheme to cost $329 million but will make money for the government by getting back its share of the equity when houses are sold, plus its share of any profits made from the house’s increased value when it is sold .
The value of eligible homes would differ by region, as shown in the table, with the government proposing to provide varying levels of support between states and regional and metropolitan areas