Page 425 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Davis): Minister Berry, just a moment. Ms Lee, for the second occasion: you will have an opportunity to reply to the minister in your closing remarks. There have been a few occasions when I have not pulled you up and now I have to. The minister needs to be heard in silence.

MS BERRY: Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker. The government has a land release program that supplies dwellings at above the rate of population growth; the home buyer concessions scheme, aiming to deliver 600 affordable rentals as well as 400 public housing dwellings; and the pensioner duty concession scheme. We are already taking all of these steps to address housing affordability across the board with the tools that we have, which I have identified at the jurisdictional level.

I once again ask that the opposition lobby their federal coalition colleagues to consider what the Australian government’s actions could be to address housing affordability as well. Here is a short list. Firstly, they could waive the historic ACT housing debt held by the commonwealth, to enable savings to be directed into more social housing. That ACT housing historic debt is $98,326,683.01, including the interest of $32,879,649.67 after we have paid that off. If the Canberra Liberals could lobby their coalition colleagues on the hill and have that debt waived, that would make a significant contribution to the ACT’s social housing supply.

They could develop a national housing and homelessness strategy—actually develop one; support the Community Housing Industry Association’s social housing and renovation program; reform the federal tax settings which currently benefit property investors over first-time buyers and renters; recognise housing affordability as a national issue; and increase funding to the states and territories through the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. They could also increase commonwealth rent assistance.

However, the ACT government will not wait until a federal election. We will continue to take action. The ACT government is committed to strengthening our social housing supply through increasing, growing and renewing the territory’s public housing stock and, in turn, reducing homelessness and contributing to a safer, stronger and more inclusive community.

I go back to the start of my response to Ms Lee’s motion today to explain, again, the numbers. The ACT government’s responsibility, which it takes very seriously and is delivering on, is that we provide two per cent of the housing and land supply in the ACT. As I said, that was around the 4,000 mark up till December last year. The private sector have active in the market over 170,000. It is two per cent that we provide in the ACT as part of our land release program.

I think that to suggest that the ACT government is in any way constraining supply is incorrect, when I have outlined in detail the difference between the ACT government’s approach to the supply of land, through the indicative land release program, and that of the private sector. It is clear that the ACT government is doing much more than its share in this space.

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