Poor Simon Benson really needs to apply a bit more rigour when going through his inbox of anti-Labor drops.

Benson was humiliated earlier this year when he claimed in the Oz that Treasury had modelled Labor’s plan to end the dividend imputation rort and found a “$10 billion black hole”. Problem was, the “modelling” then-treasurer Scott Morrison’s office had dropped to him wasn’t of Labor’s policy, as then-Treasury head John Fraser subsequently admitted. Moreover, the head of the Parliamentary Budget Office, which had done Labor’s sums, hit back at the criticism

Now Benson has fallen for the same trick, this time over a report from the construction employer group Master Builders Association. Today he claimed — “exclusively”, natch — that Labor’s negative-gearing policy had been modelled and would cause a $12 billion hit to housing. As Labor pointed out immediately, the report commissioned by the Master Builders hadn’t modelled Labor’s policy at all — they’d missed out the fact that Labor’s policy grandfathers all existing housing investment. Indeed, as Chris Bowen pointed out, the MBA report is perfectly up front about that. “The modelling does not account for the grandfathering of existing arrangements,” the MBA summary said.

It’s not as if this is the first time this has happened. If Benson had done some quick googling, he would have seen that the Housing Industry Association tried this back in April when it, too, launched a report with modelling that was covered by News Corp. “Tenants would face increases in rent under capital gains tax hike, says housing industry”  — but it, too, skipped the bit about grandfathering existing investment.

Or Benson could simply have recalled some other unfounded modelling about negative gearing that he’s peddled before — like that BIS Shrapnel report in 2016 alleging Labor’s policy would cause rents to rise, a report described as “manifestly ridiculous” and which BIS Shrapnel admitted it prepared long before Labor released its policy, in a humiliating debacle for the company and the journalists who took it seriously.

Then again, if Benson paused for a moment to ascertain whether what has landed in his inbox might pass the sniff test, that might make for fewer opportunities for the Oz to bag Labor. And that would never do.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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