Page 426 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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I commend my amendment to Ms Lee’s motion to the Assembly.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (3.17): I thank Ms Lee for bringing this motion to the chamber. I rise to speak today in support of the amendments to the motion that is being debated. As has been discussed and agreed many times in this chamber in recent months, the ACT does have a housing affordability crisis. Despite suggestions from some in this chamber that this is a contested point, it has been acknowledged and it has been discussed at length.

As has been discussed many times in this chamber, we are not alone in facing this wicked problem. We continue to examine and explore what we can do to alleviate this situation that has seen an extraordinary increase in home prices in detached and other forms, not only here but across the country. Again, as we have previously discussed here, there is little evidence to suggest that this increase is solely based on supply.

Economic analysis regularly points to issues such as record low interest rates, tax settings and the like as specific reasons for this issue. The reality of an overheated market, particularly in the context of severely limited international migration and the economic uncertainty created by the pandemic, cannot be explained away by a simple statement that we just need to flood the market with more land. Even if we had it, even if we had the capacity to get it ready to be released to market, the increase in house prices for greenfield sites, infilled sites, freestanding properties or apartments demonstrates that there are other things at play.

We must also acknowledge that we find ourselves in the midst of not only a housing affordability crisis but a climate emergency and an extinction crisis. If we do not address the issues of ecological decline, climate change or unsustainable resource use, our housing will not only become less affordable; our city will no longer be liveable. Further, this path will see the inequality crisis turbocharged as well. Even if simplistic solutions were an option, they would do nothing to address the underlying issues that are driving inequality, including housing stress and homelessness.

As a minister with responsibilities that range across homelessness and housing services, the environment and sustainable building and construction, I do not have the luxury of considering one issue at the exclusion of all others or presenting Clayton’s solutions that are not achievable and do not actually address the complex issues we face as a community.

There has already been a discussion of the importance of ensuring that we get the balance right in relation to future development so that it occurs in a way that respects our obligations to this generation and future generations, is respectful to our environment and protects the environmental values that we are stewards of. The 70-30 split in relation to land being developed and delivered by government is a reflection of the reality that the land that sits within our territory is not a limited resource and we need to plan our future development in a way that delivers better outcomes for individuals, households, neighbourhoods and the city as a whole.

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