Mark Bouris has defended his robocall warning of the risks of the Labor Party’s property policies after the electoral watchdog said the prominent businessman had breached election laws.
The former host of The Apprentice and founder of Yellow Brick Road popped up in voicemails across the country criticising Bill Shorten’s changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax.
In his “message for you”, Mr Bouris says the Opposition’s property policies will cause the housing market to plummet and drive up the price of rent.
“What we don’t need after this Saturday’s election is a government that brings further pressure onto property prices in Australia by eliminating negative gearing and changing the capitals gains tax regime for property,” he says.
“House prices will fall, they’ll continue to fall at a very rapid rate, and what’s worse is our kids are going to have to pay more rent because investors are going to have to put the rent up to recoup the losses they would normally get as a tax reduction.”
An Australian Electoral Commission spokesperson told news.com.au there were no restrictions on commissioning robocalls but the caller was required to identify themselves in the message.
“What needs to happen is it needs to be appropriately authorised, and for robocalls that means somebody saying their name and their location at the front end of the robocall,” the spokesperson said.
“It’s a technical breach of the electoral act, and we’re reaching out to remind him of the requirements.”
But in a video provided to news.com.au, Mr Bouris has passionately defended the robocall, citing freedom of speech as his right to express his own opinion.
He says the robocall wasn’t funded or intended to support any political party.
“I don’t need authorisation because I’m not acting for Yellow Brick Road, I’m doing it on my own behalf,” the businessman says. “Mark Bouris personally paid for that call.”
“All I’ve done is authorise myself to put out a message that relates to the property market that has become a very important issue in this election.
“I don’t tell anyone to vote Liberal, Labor, Greens, One Nation, Palmer etc, I just said, ‘I urge you to strongly consider who you vote for this Saturday.’”
“I haven’t offended one person or one group in this country, I’ve simply talked about economic policy.”
News.com.au understands the electoral watchdog received complaints about the robocall and issued an infringement notice to Mr Bouris.
The AEC asked the businessman to include his city of residence in any future robocalls, which Mr Bouris agreed to.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen told The Sydney Morning Herald Mr Bouris couldn’t be viewed as an independent voice because of his support of the Liberal Party and his echoing of the government’s attack lines on property policy.
“Mark Bouris is the human face of the Liberal Party-vested interests in the property sector, telling whatever lies they can to deny first home buyers their legitimate aspiration of home ownership,” he said.
“Labor’s reforms are good for first home buyers, renters and housing supply. We will boost affordable housing and build to rent, which will actually increase choice for renters while retaining negative gearing for new housing, which is great for housing supply.”
The Labor Party will make changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax from January 1, 2020, if he wins Saturday’s election.
From that date, negative gearing will be limited to new properties. Investments made before that cut-off date will not be affected by the change and will be fully grandfathered.
This policy is aimed at boosting construction and evening the playing field for first home buyers.
The capital gains tax discount will be halved — from 50 per cent to 25 per cent — for all assets bought in the new year that are held longer than 12 months.
Again, there will be no changes for existing investments, and the discount that’s now applied to super funds won’t be impacted.
News.com.au has reached out to Mr Bouris’s management team for a comment.
Mr Bouris writes a weekly column for News Corp Australia.
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