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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 8 Hansard (29 August) . . Page.. 2349..


MR SMYTH (continuing):

assumption they would borrow to pay the stamp duty, and that would be a bad thing as well. So, this is another ill-founded tax from a poorly performing Chief Minister who has been bailed out time and again by the generosity and the commitment of the Howard government to the ACT.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (3.52): Mr Speaker, I think it is important to have some commentary on a range of issues and to address some of the issues that have been raised by opposition members when it comes to the area of land development, which of course now sits within the Treasury portfolio. I have noted a number of opposition members seeking to rewrite history when it comes to issues around land availability in the ACT.

It is very interesting that those opposite will seek to assert that any government role in land development activity is a bad and evil thing, which leads to what they consider to be all sorts of problems. In the first instance, I draw the attention of members opposite to the recently announced housing affordability strategy by the Queensland government. I note, in particular, that Mr Seselja and others have asserted that the establishment of the Land Development Agency was a reflection of 1950s thinking, I think was the term used. If it was such 1950s thinking, why has the Queensland government in its most recent housing affordability strategy announced that one of the measures it is going to use to improve housing affordability is to establish a government land development agency?

The Queensland government has recognised the importance of having the public sector actively involved in facilitating timely and high quality land release to the community. It has identified that its failure to be involved in the market has actually exacerbated the problem of housing affordability in its state. Obviously, the challenges faced by that jurisdiction are not the same as ours in every respect; nevertheless, I think it is quite interesting that yet another government has chosen to take the step to intervene in the market and to have a public sector role and presence.

There is another bit of history that has been rewritten by those opposite: issues around housing affordability. I heard Mr Seselja comment on these matters during the budget debate yesterday, when he questioned why the LDA was doing things, such as encouraging people to buy land in the Ginninderra Estate through a series of incentives such as white goods packages and so on, to encourage people to consider buying land at Ginninderra. The reason for that was that just over six months ago the market—including the Property Council of Australia, the MBA and others—was advising government to be cautious with its level of land release.

We are concerned about oversupply in the market. Indeed, the advice that I was receiving at the time from the residential land advisory committee, which has representatives from the MBA, HIA and others, was that there were serious concerns about an impending oversupply of land and that the government needed to be cautious with its level of land release. That is reflected in the fact that the LDA had to take some fairly significant measures to encourage people to buy land at Ginninderra because the land was not moving—it was not selling. The level of demand was clearly not there in the same way that it is now. What we saw following last year's federal budget—and this is more pronounced following this year's federal budget—was a sudden pick-up, a very real pick-up in demand for land. Those are the facts of the matter and they should never be forgotten by those opposite.


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