Page 3336 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 October 2022

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been allowed to happen? Why have the government repeatedly failed to meet land release targets that they set for themselves? Why have the government provided so few assurances to the private construction industry when they are so desperately in need of such assurances?

Why, in the 20 years that the government have had to prepare a suitable land release policy program, have they failed miserably to deliver a variety of land and property for the population, including duplexes, high and mid-rise apartments, standalone dwellings, urban centres and leafy green suburbs? Why do the government continue to hide and deflect from the significant role they have played in accelerating the housing crisis that the ACT has faced in recent years? Why do the government mislead voters by telling them that their woefully inadequate land supply meets demand?

The Canberra Liberals have called for housing choice, and at the core of this is the supply of land, over which this government does in fact have significant control. I listened to Minister Berry, the Deputy Chief Minister, tell me in a hearing that the ACT government is only responsible for two per cent of the land release. She conveniently forgot that all land is, in fact, released by the ACT government. It might be secondarily sold by the private sector, and that proportion may well be 98 per cent, but the government refuse to acknowledge their role in the system.

The Chief Minister tried to tell me that, in relation to ACT land release, the supply of land would not impact housing prices. I called this unique economic theory “Barr-onomics”: if you strangle the supply of a highly sought after product, you do not affect the price. Again, this is a complete reversal of the usual law of supply and demand, and I look forward to economic theorists exploring this theory even further. It is my view that the Labor-Greens government do not have the skills to run the territory effectively. We saw, with the report into the SLA’s book-to-buy scheme, which it has converted to a ballot system after scrutiny by the Integrity Commissioner, that they are not up to the job.

As the first step, I would encourage the Labor-Greens government to read the report recently submitted by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts—and I mean really read it. They should not just say, “Yes, we’re going to respond to that.” They should take on board its recommendations. It makes an interesting read. The government must develop a housing strategy based on reliable and concrete data, and in collaboration with the community and key stakeholders, that will improve, accelerate and add value to land release in the territory. Opening the Indicative Land Release Program models used for residential supply and demand to public scrutiny will support this process and enable the community to have greater oversight of the allocation of land in the territory.

Canberrans want integrity and transparency from their government. They do not want to be misled, and they are sick and tired of the exorbitant cost of housing. This is what the Canberra Liberals believe that the ACT government needs. This is at the heart of Ms Lee’s motion. It does not take a seasoned economist to understand that there are evident land pressures in the ACT—pressures that can be relieved by pulling the appropriate levers. It is not enough to say, “It’s the commonwealth tax settings that explain the price rises and the high demand.” The government needs to better use the lever which is at its control—the supply of land and the supply of a variety of land.

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