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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 9 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 2605..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

for lower-income households and increase the capacity of those households to own their own home. This initiative adds to the benefits of the affordable house and land packages to further reduce the financial pressure on households. Under this scheme, households would not have to make land payments on newly constructed houses until a certificate of occupancy has been issued. This will ensure that households are not paying off a mortgage and paying for rental accommodation at the same time.

The purchasers of these affordable housing products are likely to be facing greater financial pressures in moving into home ownership than other sectors of the community. This measure recognises that pressure and reduces it. In doing so, it will improve the capacity of these households to enter the housing market. When combined with existing programs such as the home buyers concession and the first home owner grant scheme, the total raft of assistance available through the ACT taxation system represents a significant commitment to reducing the barriers to home ownership.

The bill is not aimed solely at those people looking to buy their first home. It also contains measures to help those enter into community housing in the ACT. The ACT has an active but relatively small community housing sector, currently catering for people who may not meet the eligibility criteria for public housing. Community Housing Canberra plays a vital role in providing affordable homes and contributing to sustainable communities for Canberrans in need. The government remains strongly committed to helping Community Housing Canberra grow so that it can deliver a greater number of affordable dwellings to Canberrans on low to moderate incomes.

Through new initiatives announced in the action plan, organisations such as CHC will be exempt from both duty and land tax. This will allow for consistency with the exemptions currently in place for Housing ACT. These amendments will also address the problem of acute rental shortages in the lower end of the market. The changes will provide greater access to more affordable rental properties for those in need in the ACT.

This exemption will assist CHC to meet the ambitious targets set out in the action plan. The government is looking for CHC to increase the supply of affordable dwellings by 1,000 over the next 10 years. This is a significant increase in CHC's capacity and a substantial increase in the availability of affordable houses. This measure, along with other initiatives for CHC announced in the action plan, will transform community housing, and help hundreds of households access affordable high-quality rental properties.

It has become increasingly difficult for first home buyers to attain the dream of owning a home not only in the ACT but also in the whole of Australia. The ACT government has recognised that and, through the initiatives contained in the affordable housing action plan, is doing something about it. I commend the Revenue Legislation (Housing Affordability Initiatives) Amendment Bill 2007 to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.


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