Page 1327 - Week 04 - Thursday, 5 May 2022

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There is clear evidence about the mechanisms that will make the biggest difference in relation to housing affordability. Canberra is not that much different to other communities and we are continuing to deal with the wicked problem, as others are. We are doing the heavy lifting in relation to things that do make a difference at a local level: changing our local tax and stamp duty regime, undertaking a land development program that focuses on our desire to develop a more compact city, with homes near transport corridors and in infill sites, as well as providing greenfield development in locations that do not exacerbate the climate and extinction crisis that we are dealing with.

There is absolutely more to do. We have already started the work on ensuring that we are doing everything we can to support the people most impacted by this housing affordability crisis. As noted previously, I have been working really closely with the community sector on the issue of homelessness. Through the last year we have developed new services and new accommodation options. We have provided a funding boost for frontline services and have injected $12 million into the sector. We are currently working on a deep engagement and co-design process to ensure that our homelessness sector is supporting everyone who needs our support due to their risk or experience of homelessness.

In this discussion we cannot ignore the environmental vandalism that would be caused by developing land west of the Murrumbidgee. The feasibility of developing this part of our jurisdiction has been something that has been investigated over the decades. Earlier this year, cabinet papers from the last decade were released that outlined the significant concerns from a range of ACT government agencies around the unsuitability of developing land west of the Murrumbidgee, particularly in relation to environmental impact.

More specifically, we are talking about endangered woodlands which are some of the best-connected patches of woodland type in Australia. They include significant habitat for threatened woodland birds, threatened plant species and creatures such as the nationally threatened pink-tailed worm-lizard. The Murrumbidgee and Molonglo valleys are a national stronghold for these threatened species, and we know it is critical to maintain large habitat patches and the connections between them.

There are also significant heritage values present in this area, both First Nations heritage sites and European and settler heritage. I could easily go on. But the key point is that, in recognition of these issues, the ACT government ruled out development in west Murrumbidgee in the 2018 planning strategy. Since the initial discussions a decade ago, nothing has changed except that the stakes for our biodiversity and our climate are even higher. Nothing has changed except for the fact we have signed up to acknowledging that we are in a climate emergency. Nothing has changed except that Australia has the dubious first place of more mammal extinction than any other country on the planet.

Nothing has changed in terms of the Liberals, despite the fact that unfettered development of land west of the Murrumbidgee would not have any real, immediate impact on housing availability and the fact that it would mean significant

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