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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1735..


Housing-Labor government's priorities and directions

Ministerial statement

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (4.08): Mr Speaker, I seek leave of the Assembly to make a ministerial statement on housing.

Leave granted.

MR WOOD: I am pleased to be able to outline the priorities and the current directions for the Stanhope government in housing. The government came into office with a strong commitment to building an inclusive community, giving all people in the ACT the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.

Access to appropriate housing is essential for people to participate in the economic and community development of the city. Without adequate housing, many low-income households are unable to access the health, education or employment opportunities that others take for granted. Ensuring everyone has access to appropriate and affordable housing is not only the basis of an inclusive community but also essential for contributing to the economic development and social wellbeing of the city.

We know that inadequate housing impacts on health, education and employment outcomes. Studies nationally indicate that sufficient good-quality, affordable housing in the right areas is a key to the efficient working of the economy.

The OECD's recent evaluation of Canberra identified affordable housing as one of the key challenges we need to address in achieving a sustainable future for Canberra in the 21st century. This is a challenge that is not going to be solved by a quick fix-it requires a considered, strategic and collaborative approach, with long-term commitment.

In response to these challenges, the government has established an affordable housing task force. It will report in October on a strategy for affordable housing. The report will include recommendations about how to improve affordability in both rental and home ownership markets. The report will include recommendations about how to improve affordability in both rental and home ownership markets.

Access to affordable housing is an increasing problem. We cannot continue to ignore the increasing affordability problems for many households in the ACT housing market. The Australian housing survey in 1999 found that private rentals in the lower income quintile paid more than 59 per cent of their income on housing. Since that time, rents at the lower end of the market have risen 30 per cent.

As I said on Tuesday, affordability in the home purchase market in the ACT has reduced because of an average increase in house prices of around 23 per cent in the year to March 2002. While existing home owners may be pleased with the spiralling price of houses, we should also be aware of the problems this presents for new home buyers, including our children.


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