Page 580 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022

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(h) the Victorian Labor Government introduced a one percent improved capital value vacancy levy in 2018 for Metro Melbourne and the NSW Labor Opposition also had this policy as part of their 2019 election platform; and

(i) a vacancy tax is an effective lever available to the ACT Government to rapidly increase our city’s housing stock;

(2) further notes that:

(a) many local shopping centres around the ACT have been left untenanted for many years leaving communities without a local shopping centre;

(b) this has an impact on the vibrancy of communities and the liveability of a suburb to low-income people and families;

(c) lack of affordable commercial rentals influences the capacity for ACT small businesses to thrive and help rejuvenate local centres; and

(d) there are a range of opportunities available to the ACT Government to incentivise commercial landlords to regenerate these shopping centres, including introducing new taxation policies on vacant commercial sites;

(3) refers this matter for an inquiry to the Standing Committee on Economy and Gender and Economic Equality to investigate legislative reforms, regulatory levers, and creative mechanisms available to the ACT Government to reduce the number of vacant properties and commercial sites;

(4) requests the Committee in conducting its inquiry to have regard to:

(a) the rapidly increasing cost of renting or buying a home in the Territory;

(b) the impact of intentionally vacant habitable dwellings on the housing and rental affordability crisis in Canberra;

(c) the ways to determine whether a residential property is vacant;

(d) the impact of intentionally vacant habitable dwellings on the land release program and development in greenfield areas;

(e) how we may reinvigorate local shopping centres by addressing long-term commercial vacancies at these sites using a vacancy tax; and

(f) options for changes to legislation or taxation of vacant habitable dwellings in the ACT and the impact of this on the cost of housing; and

(5) requests the Committee to report back to the Assembly by 27 January 2023.

Rental affordability is one of the most significant issues our city is facing. I rise today to speak to my motion calling for an inquiry to further investigate vacancy tax reforms which may increase our housing stock and help to encourage the rejuvenation of local shopping centres.

Coming together under the proposal of a vacancy tax, this inquiry would investigate two interrelated social issues—namely, the withholding of otherwise vacant residential properties from the rental market and the long-term vacancy of commercial properties, particularly in local suburban shopping centres. This motion calls for a community conversation to be facilitated by a committee of the Assembly into the taxation levers possibly available to government to ensure that property investment is accountable to the community.

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