Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 13 Hansard (6 December) . . Page.. 4081..
MR SESELJA (continuing):
which has risen at double the rate of the most escalating component of the consumer price index. In 2003, the median house price in the ACT was $312,000; in 2007, the median house price, on one measure, is $426,000. In a recent article in the Canberra Times, we saw that the entry price for a standard block of land in Canberra was around $200,000; an equivalent block in Melbourne was around $155,000.
In August 2006, Reserve Bank governor Ian Macfarlane, testifying before a parliamentary committee, blamed restrictive land use and planning policies for loss of affordability for first home buyers. More than any other jurisdiction, the ACT government has the ability to manage land release. Recent figures suggest that the land release crisis has pushed Canberra above national averages, outstripping other state capitals, including Hobart, Brisbane and Adelaide.
The human face of these numbers is the disgraceful oversubscription of the recent land ballot. This event left 650 of the 700 applicants walking away with nothing. The response of the Chief Minister? He implied that they are too fussy. He said:
The oversubscription of potential buyers for 51 residential blocks of land to be sold at Franklin this weekend said as much about the quality of the blocks as about pent-up demand.
What he is saying is that they are simply too fussy. The land that the Chief Minister referred to will not sell because even seasoned industry professionals say that the blocks are overpriced by up to $40,000—not that the government need to worry about that; they can afford to sit and wait until desperation takes hold and families take on higher mortgages than they can afford. Others will simply be forced out of the market for good or forced to leave Canberra.
The action that we have seen from the government has simply been spin and photo ops—photos of the Chief Minister standing in front of a display village that has no land to build on, and photos of the planning minister standing on land that will not be developed this year, and perhaps not even next year.
All of this is aimed towards one goal—painting a picture for the Canberra community that everything is okay, that the government is making progress, that the situation is under control. Well, it is not, and any one of the 650 people who walked away from the last land ballot will tell you that the situation is not under control at all. This is not to mention the thousands of others who do not bother registering because it is out of their price range.
We have heard references to the land bank by the government, yet we see no results. Where is the land bank? If it exists, why is it not being wheeled out to deal with the problem? The so-called land bank has been a failure. The work has not been done. It is the young families of Canberra that are paying the price.
We can look to the new planning minister for answers, but unfortunately none will be found. The planning minister was recently asked at a public forum how many blocks are available right now for sale. His answer: "3,200."When asked the same question in the Assembly, he said, "No, that's not right; I meant 3,200 this year."What is the