Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 2 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 218..
MRS BURKE (continuing):
The question of striking a balance within the ACT on government offering or facilitating the development of all forms of affordable housing is a complex matter. It is well known that there is not one, single, silver-bullet solution. The community is eagerly awaiting advice from the Stanhope government's affordable housing taskforce. Indeed, the community is awaiting further advice from Mr Hargreaves's housing forum from-guess when?-February 2006. The question is: will this be yet another set of recommendations collated and compiled into another set of reports for the government to consider, digest and then perhaps implement.
Is it possible that there will be some form of action this time, after all the forums, taskforces and reports offering apparent recommendations over the past five years or more? Mr Stanhope, the Chief Minister, must be grappling with the merits of injecting further funds into facilitating affordable housing options in the ACT. Better management of the public housing asset base and ensuring the funds allocated to the housing portfolio are adequately and responsibly expended might be a good place to begin.
This housing option of public housing or social community housing may only service around 10 per cent of the population but it still remains a vital service for families who simply cannot enter into home ownership or cannot compete for private rental options. However, most importantly, it is the areas of land taxes, fees and charges, land release and the planning issues that surround this whole debate, which my colleagues may acknowledge later, which need to be considered.
A genuine shift in thinking is needed on what exactly constitutes affordable housing options in Canberra, to encourage housing industry organisations and developers to consider this on their own merits. After receiving $47 million in tax revenue windfall during the first half of the 2006-07 financial year, on top of the delivery of the most recent grim budget, the ACT Treasurer is still faced with recovering from overexpending in previous budgets during the boom times.
This government cannot overspend $680 million in three years and then expect to continue to fund the provision of all forms of affordable housing over the entire electoral cycle. That is possibly why it has never been able to implement any of those 46 recommendations back in 2002. Facing such fiscal difficulties, the Stanhope government still has no choice, and certainly there is no scope, but to pour any further energy or resources into any more comprehensive reporting processes. This government has no choice but to act now.
The Liberal opposition acknowledges that there are many and varied challenges faced in the remaining budgetary outyears of finding the necessary funds to continue to implement programs aimed at assisting people in securing affordable forms of housing in the ACT. The Chief Minister has been very busy pursuing fanatical hobbyhorse projects, the latest to glorify the life of a former federal member of parliament, Al Grassby. It is difficult to comprehend how this takes priority over what all Canberrans would know is a greater concern.
The Stanhope government should be focusing on relieving Canberra's deepening housing crisis, exacerbated by its lack of policies and high property taxes, convoluted