Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4017..
Ms MacDonald: She didn't vote against it.
MR SESELJA: I am sure that in this case Mrs Burke would have known how the numbers would go, which is perhaps why she did not call for a vote. The reality is that one hour is not enough and we should be consistently, across the board, allocating more time for these kinds of hearings. When $800 million of taxpayers' money is being spent in what is perhaps the most important public policy area, I think we should have a little more than one hour in which to examine the minister on the performance of her agency over the year.
I want to speak briefly about an issue. I was drawn to a recent article in the Canberra Times headlined "Land supply warning as buyers rush to register". It arose out of the ballot at Franklin, where 700 people registered for a ballot for 51 blocks of land. It really demonstrates the pointy end of this government's complete failure in land release policy over a number of years. And these are not just numbers; these are people who have suffered significantly as a result of these policy failures. I was particularly interested in the Chief Minister's response when he said: "The exceptional demand is as much about the quality of the blocks as about pent-up demand."I think that statement, which, when paraphrased, essentially means that some of these people are just too fussy, is a slap in the face to first home buyers and potential first home buyers in the territory.
We do have a land affordability crisis in particular, which leads to a housing affordability crisis. The land affordability crisis has been significantly contributed to by the policies of this government. There is strong demand, but in light of that strong demand, that we have known about for some time, this government should have responded much more quickly than it has. We should see more competition in the market and we should see a land bank that is able to respond quickly, rather than having these massive gaps between when new land releases are announced and first home buyers are actually given the opportunity to purchase.
Mr Howarth was quoted in the article as saying, in relation to the blocks referred to in Dunlop, that the reason they were still sitting in the market was because they were overpriced by $40,000. I do not think that there are hundreds of young potential first home buyers in Canberra who are really that fussy. There is a good reason why they have been forced out of the market. Many of them simply cannot afford those blocks. Many of them are very small blocks on which it would be difficult to build a decent family home. Regardless of that, this government's policies, its squeeze on land supply and its stifling of competition, are hurting first home buyers. I think the Chief Minister's comments, which essentially amounted to saying, "They're simply too fussy,"were a real slap in the face to first home buyers who are suffering, and who do want to get into some basic accommodation of their own in order to enjoy the great Australian dream. As a result of this government's policies, that has become harder and harder for them to achieve. I think the Chief Minister's comments are very unfortunate and a real slap in the face to those people.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The Assembly adjourned at 6.31 pm.