Page 1597 - Week 05 - Thursday, 2 June 2022

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principal and interest back into our public housing system. It is worth noting that there is effectively a two-way flow of funds at the moment. Under our national partnership agreement, the commonwealth provides the states and territories with funding to support housing and homelessness activities, but we roughly pay half of that back in the interest and capital repayments on this outstanding loan. Unless anything substantive changes, we will be doing that until 2041-42, which is a long time to wait for action.

Releasing the ACT from this particular debt would of course enable the territory government to redirect the servicing costs associated with these debts towards new or expanded housing and homelessness services and social and affordable housing. So we have been very clear about what we would do, were we to be granted a debt waiver or a debt restructure. We acknowledge that we would have to sign up to our end of the bargain so as to avoid the situation that Mr Davis outlined that occurred in South Australia. That would need to be a bilateral agreement between the commonwealth and the territory to achieve a shared and desired outcome.

I do note that my federal colleagues will create the Housing Australia Future Fund, which is a $10 billion fund. If that were allocated on a per capita basis to the territory, we would see, in effect, more than our current historic housing debt being invested in public housing. So we will look to be creative and flexible in how we work with the commonwealth to assist them to deliver on their policy commitments and the ACT’s share of those 20,000 additional public housing properties.

There are another 10,000 in this scheme that are, effectively, key worker housing projects. Again, we will go into that discussion with the commonwealth, arguing for our per capita share of that national program. My presumption would be that the commonwealth would move away from pork barrelling in the marginal electorates and allocate these national programs via some formula associated with per capita and with needs-based being the principal reason, not politics and the margin of a federal electorate.

Mr Parton: We will be watching.

MR BARR: Indeed, lots of people will be, including us, so rest assured that that is one that we will be pursuing. I am very happy to support the motion today and to advise the Assembly that we will continue to engage with the commonwealth on these matters. They were the subject of my initial conversations and correspondence with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance, and I will pursue that with the Treasurer as well when we meet in the not too distant future. As housing and homelessness have now been elevated into the federal cabinet, I am sure the Deputy Chief Minister, when she meets with Minister Collins in the near future, will also be pursuing this on the territory’s behalf.

I think the future looks brighter for public housing for two reasons. Firstly, there is a stated commitment and $10 billion that has been set aside across the nation. Depending on how efficiently we could deliver the ACT’s share, that is potentially up to about 330 extra public housing properties from the ACT’s per capita share that could be delivered through that commonwealth program, so that is important.

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