Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 6 (4 May) . . Page.. 1768..
MR CORBELL (continuing):
more beds, more elective surgery, improvement in access to the emergency departments and addressing issues to do with access block in the intensive care units-all things the community is looking for, all things the government is responding to.
Of course, you cannot do that without money; you cannot do that without extra money to pay for the services to improve the efficiency of the hospital; you cannot do that without making the investment. Sadly, there seems to be only one party in this place prepared to make that investment. I am glad to say it is the Labor Party; I am glad to say my colleagues and I are committed to improving access to public health services, to improving public hospital services. Sadly, the shadow Treasurer and the shadow minister for health seem to think that we are spending too much in our public hospitals, that we are spending too much on health, that we are spending too much paying our doctors and nurses. That is a view this government soundly repudiates.
Moderate income land ballot
DR FOSKEY: My question is to Mr Corbell in his guise as Minister for Planning. This government has often cited the moderate income land ballot as a significant strategy in increasing affordable housing in the ACT. However, feedback from constituents suggest that the land is unaffordable for many moderate income families and that there is little direct benefit in purchasing land at market value through the ballot. This is demonstrated by the fact that in the December 2004 ballot just 34 registered parties attended and only 17 blocks were sold, and in the recent ballot held on April 30 just 14 blocks sold from the 37 available for sale. Can the government explain why fewer than half of the blocks of land available to each ballot have sold? What happens to the blocks that did not sell?
MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Foskey for the question. The moderate income land ballot is designed to provide assistance to people who are in the third quintile of income earners, who can sustain a mortgage but are having difficulty getting into the housing market for the first time. It was a direct recommendation of the housing affordability task force that a moderate income land ballot be established, and the government has done that. The ballot threshold is an approximate income of $100,000 per annum to be eligible to participate. That increases depending upon the number of dependent children. If you have five or more dependent children, the maximum income threshold that you must be under is $116,000 per annum. Those income tests are designed to make sure that the land is available to those in that third quintile of income earners.
It is worth noting that the average price for a raw piece of land or housing block in the ACT is currently over $200,000, whereas the value of land provided through the moderate income land ballot is no more than $150,000-so that is $50,000 less than the average price of a block of land in Canberra at the moment. That is a significant discount and it is being made available to a significant group of people in our community. The take-up in the ballots has, in my view, been disappointing. That may be down to the marketing of the process or it may be down to other factors. I will ask the land development agency to keep a close watch on the operation of the moderate income land ballot. If it is the case that the moderate income land ballot is not reaching the people it needs to reach, the government is always open to reviewing it to make sure that it does.
Dr Foskey also asked me what happens to those parcels of land not sold through the ballot. I will have to take the details of that question on notice. I am not familiar with the