Page 1326 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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We know it is not going to help our planet and it is not going to help our people to launch new greenfield sites in an ecologically sensitive area that will take years and years to develop. It is a false promise to do that. These sites are so far outside our footprint that we cannot build there in a climate-resilient way, we cannot build there in an efficient way, and we cannot build there so that people have a really good car-free, cheap way to get into the city. We cannot set people up for a decent lifestyle in a changing climate with increasing bushfire risk if we do this.

It is a story of climate change, homelessness and housing, and we need to look at the whole story. We cannot just pick off little pieces; we need the whole story. There is a lot that we agree with in Ms Lee’s motion, but at its heart it is calling for a study that we do not need into a site that we have already looked at and dismissed for development which would take a decade to give anybody a home, and we cannot support that. So the Greens will be supporting Minister Gentleman’s amendments.

MS VASSAROTTI (Kurrajong—Minister for the Environment, Minister for Heritage, Minister for Homelessness and Housing Services and Minister for Sustainable Building and Construction) (5.14): I rise today to support the amendments made by Minister Gentleman to the motion moved by Ms Lee on housing affordability.

I really welcome the Assembly’s ongoing focus on the issue of housing affordability. I think it has been a feature of discussion for every sitting period this year. Given the significant housing stress felt in the community, this is not surprising. It is important. However, I am deeply disappointed at the superficial nature of the discussion to date and concerned that those opposite continue to bring simplistic responses to an issue that is complex and immensely challenging to respond to. Wicked problems are just that: they are issues that do not have easy fixes and require thoughtfulness, creativity and collaborative action to respond to.

Here we are today, looking at the latest recycled policy idea from the Canberra Liberals: to bulldoze and develop land west of the Murrumbidgee. While this has been an idea that has been floated a number of times by the federal Liberal member, the Canberra Liberals have been pretty quiet about this idea in recent years. There was little discussion of it in the lead-up to the election. In media reporting, when asked, a spokesman said that the party would protect ecologically sensitive areas of the ACT and not much beyond that. It is almost like they did not want to tell people about the plans to destroy more of the environment that the community loves, to deliver a negligible benefit in terms of seriously addressing housing affordability.

Let us first deal with the probability that this will make a major difference in relation to housing affordability. We absolutely know that supply is part of the issue, so it may make some difference, at least for a short period, a long way into the future. As we have talked about, though, we also know that greenfield development is expensive, takes time and can come at significant environmental cost in terms of loss of habitat, loss of environmental value and the creation of the heat island effect. It also does not necessarily align with the housing preferences of our community, who want to live in places that are close to services, transport and employment centres.

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