Bowen caught out on numbers

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    Opposition Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen has been caught using inaccurate figures to promote Labor’s negative gearing policy, after the Australian Bureau of Statistics denied claims it had produced data showing that only 7 per cent of property investors bought new homes.

    Mr Bowen’s use of ABS data has also been challenged by the Grattan Institute, a public policy think tank, which has argued that 14 per cent of investors buy new properties rather than existing ones — an estimate that is double what Labor has claimed.

    Mr Bowen, Labor’s chief economic salesman, has repeatedly referred to ABS figures purportedly showing that negative gearing has failed to promote construction in new housing and create jobs.

    “The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that 93 per cent of new investment loans go to people purchasing existing housing stock,” he said as recently as January.“This means that the vast bulk of investment does not increase supply or boost jobs.“All it does is increase demand and the price of the existing homes, allowing investors to use tax subsidies to outbid owner-occupiers and first-home buyers.”But ABS financial statistics analyst Tony Mitchell said the agency did not collate the figures Mr Bowen had been referring to since 2016.“If you wanted to have those numbers you wouldn’t be able to get them from our statistics because we don’t collect them,” Mr Mitchell told The Australian.“We’ve got a little bit about construction, but it is to do with lending to businesses for construction of investment dwellings. It is not to do with lending to households for construction of investment dwellings.“There is nothing about lending for newly constructed dwellings. That is included in other statistics, but you can’t break it out.”Mr Bowen was forced to clarify his costings with the Parliamentary Budget Office after the property industry claimed his numbers were wrong and that could impact on the claimed savings from Labor’s policy.
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