Housing market not heading for a crash, says Morrison

About 80 per cent of Australia's $2.1 trillion in household debt tied up in mortgages, treasurer Scott Morrison said.

About 80 per cent of Australia's $2.1 trillion in household debt tied up in mortgages, treasurer Scott Morrison said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has moved to reassure US investors - and Australian mums and dads - that Australia is not headed towards a housing market crash, arguing house prices are high but their value is still "real".

And in a speech in New York to investors overnight, Mr Morrison pushed back at a recent warning from the International Monetary Fund about particularly high levels of household debt in Australia by pointing to a series of measures taken by prudential regulator APRA to constrain access to credit.

He outlined three major risks to the Australian economy - household debt; a rise in Chinese debt and a subsequent slowing of growth in that country; and the risk of high levels of federal government debt.

Mr Morrison renewed his push for tax cuts for companies with a turnover of more than $50 million a year - which was blocked by the Senate - arguing that, "across the globe, the principle of cutting business taxes to drive growth and investment is the emerging economic consensus".

The Turnbull government will re-introduce its company tax plan to Parliament next week and Mr Morrison's comments came as US President Donald Trump urged the Congress to pass his proposed sweeping tax cuts for families and business.

Mr Morrison acknowledged household debt in Australia was high, with about 80 per cent of Australia's $2.1 trillion in household debt tied up in mortgages.

He said: "this is a real risk, if not properly managed, and we get it", but added that the figures must be understood in context.

"While Australia's housing markets, especially in our largest cities, have experienced strong growth over the past decade this, of itself, is not evidence of an underlying weakness in housing asset values, nor that a hard landing for our housing markets is ahead," he said.

"Australian housing values, while high, are still real. 'Safe as houses' still broadly means something in Australia."

APRA's decision to constrain access to credit, offerlower rate loans for owner-occupiers than investors, raise the bar on lending standards, and cap the number of new interest only loans had all helped bolster the resilience of Australia's banks, he said.

Scott Morrison has moved to reassure investors that Australia's housing market isn't heading for a crash. Photo: Andrew Meares

Scott Morrison has moved to reassure investors that Australia's housing market isn't heading for a crash. Photo: Andrew Meares

Taken together, the measures were "working to smooth the landing in our housing markets".

"Capital city house prices only rose 0.3 per cent in September to be 8.5 per cent higher through the year," Mr Morrison said.

"Sydney prices declined 0.1 per cent in the month, the first monthly decline in prices in 17 months."

Mr Morrison's comments addressing fears of a crash in house prices come a day after the Domain Group's State of the Market report found house prices in Sydney had fallen by 1.9 per cent in the three months to the end of September, with the value of houses in the inner city and eastern suburbs falling by about 6 per cent.

The report found that in Melbourne house price growth has slowed, but has still risen in every quarter for five years.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver also did not foresee a "crash" in the market on the cards.

Mr Morrison has visited New York and Washington for meetings at the IMF, the World Bank and of G20 Finance ministers.

On China, he argued that Australia's key trading partner faced risks from high levels of credit in its financial system - but that Chinese financial regulators had begun to tighten the rules for investors.

In addition, he said, the Turnbull government had sought to diversify Australia's risk from exposure to China by broadening the country's trading relationships and signing new free trade deals with Japan, South Korea, Peru and, potentially, Indonesia by the end of the year.

He also emphasised the Turnbull government's steps to reduce the federal deficit and return the budget back to balance by 2020-21.

The story Housing market not heading for a crash, says Morrison first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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