The mortgage relief plan has been ‘a success story’
By JENNIFER PAPLEYThe Federal Government is trying to revive the $2.6 billion Medicare savings plan it introduced earlier this year to help Australians save for a down payment for their first home.
The scheme is one of the few federal programs to be re-launched in a meaningful way.
It was meant to help about 2.3 million Australians with low and moderate income.
“I think we’re very proud of it,” Health Minister Nicola Roxon said.
“I don’t think we could have done it without the support of the private sector, the private banks and the private lenders, and the people who had been very supportive of us.”
The plan was designed to help low and middle-income Australians with their first-home purchase by offering them a 10 per cent reduction on their first mortgage.
“It’s an incredible thing,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.
There was “a lot of excitement” among some business owners, he said.
In addition to the savings, the plan will also allow Medicare to continue providing some health care, including a $5 million subsidy to hospitals.
Mr Cormann says the plan has a “huge” potential to improve the lives of the poorest Australians.
“The plan is a huge success story,” he said, “because it’s got the support and the support from all the big business and the banks.”
A total of $2 billion of savings are now available.
It was supposed to be a one-off measure that could only be rolled out for the next five years, but it was extended for another five years at a cost of $1.5 billion.
A $2 million contribution from the private banking industry is also being earmarked for the program.
While there are some big winners from the plan, the scheme has faced significant criticism.
More than 4,000 Australians were told they were not eligible for the relief.
Some have called it a “disaster” for the struggling nation, while others have questioned why the government was not making the savings available sooner.
The Federal Budget will be published in the coming days.