Liberal senator calls for tax, housing policy changes


Australia's newest senator says her role is to ensure people have enough opportunities to build themselves a better life.

NSW Liberal senator Maria Kovacic used her first speech to say it was the role of politicians to ensure Australians were able to buy their own homes.

Senator Kovacic called for the government to increase supply and incentivise state and local governments to get on board after revealing she was left homeless and broke after being evicted with her three children as a single mother in her 20s.

She spoke in support of the Liberal policy of allowing Australians to access their superannuation to buy a home.

"We must allow Australians the choice to unlock and access their own money to buy their own homes," she said on Tuesday.

"It is an uncontested fact that owning your own home in retirement, not your super balance ... is the single most important factor to ensure living with security and dignity."

Senator Kovacic also called for tax changes, saying an overhaul of negative gearing and working with states to replace stamp duty should be on the table.

She said changes to childcare affordability - including the possibility of tax-deducting costs - should be examined, adding that "good social policy can also be good economic policy".

"It is troubling that the cost of two children in child care absorbs almost the entirety of the average after-tax female income," she said.

Senator Kovacic additionally spoke of the frustration women felt at being ignored and overlooked by successive governments.

The daughter of Croatian migrants, Senator Kovacic said she would be guided by the principles of progressive liberalism, namely personal and economic freedoms as well as free markets, business competition and small government.

"We must have the freedom to choose the way we live our own lives without fear of discrimination or exploitation," she said.

"Every person must be treated equally before the law irrespective of their gender, culture, religion, sexuality, wealth or privilege."

Senator Kovacic was unsuccessful in a bid for the seat of Parramatta, in Sydney's west, at the last federal election, losing to Labor's Andrew Charlton after a primary swing against both major parties.

She was then selected to fill the Senate vacancy caused by the death of Jim Molan.

"I remain acutely aware that my arrival in this place has come in the shadow of sadness," she said.

"Jim was a distinguished soldier and military commander, an honourable senator and tireless advocate for a stronger and more secure Australia."

The former NSW Liberal Party president beat former state cabinet minister Andrew Constance to be selected for the seat.