Page 1923 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 27 June 2023

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have not been advertised for rent. It does not include empty homes owned by foreign investors. It does not include homes that are used for short-term rentals like Airbnb and it does not include empty shops.

There are a number of factors that have created the perfect storm, where wealthy people are rewarded for treating housing exclusively as a commodity. Being a housing investor is now profitable even if you are not renting your property out. Capital gains tax discounts and negative gearing have rigged the system in favour of these people. It is inexcusable that people are sleeping in their cars. It is inexcusable that people are sleeping on the street. And it is inexcusable that many people will not have a safe and secure home until they reach the front of the long housing wait list, a wait list more than 3,100 applicants long, while at the same time there are empty properties scattered throughout our city.

The ACT Greens took a bold policy commitment to the 2020 ACT election. We said we believed that in Canberra there should be a home for all. We believe housing is a fundamental human right and a necessity for a healthy and happy life. We refuse to let property profiteering get in the way of that ambition.

This inquiry was born out of a motion I put to this Assembly in March of 2022 requesting that an Assembly committee investigate the efficacy of a vacancy tax. The idea is simple: incentivise the more efficient use of properties by implementing a tax on those left vacant for extended periods of time without a good explanation, encouraging people to utilise those homes. This can apply to both commercial and residential properties.

When I tabled this motion in March of last year, suburbs throughout the ACT were littered with empty shops, particularly in my electorate of Brindabella. Local shopping centres like those in Richardson and Monash that were once thriving hubs for people living in the area are now derelict, abandoned and a blight on those communities. Some local shops have sat empty for almost a decade, impacting the vibrancy and livability of suburbs in my community. Those shops still sit empty today, as developers land bank or wait for planning codes to change, or while multiple development applications go rejected. Empty residential properties throughout our city could and should be homes for people to live in. As said by Better Renting in their submission to this inquiry:

When people are going homeless, or struggling to afford their homes, the presence of vacant potential homes in the ACT is an insult.

Vacancy taxes have been used as a tool to address housing supply challenges around the world. In Melbourne, a vacancy residential land tax implemented by a Labor government has been in place since 2018, putting a one per cent tax on the capital improved value of inner Melbourne properties that are empty for more than six months. A federal vacancy property tax, in the form of an annual vacancy fee, has been in place since 2017 to encourage foreign owners of residential properties to put their homes on the long-term rental market.

Similar schemes exist in France, Scotland, Ireland, South Korea, Washington DC, Seattle, Vancouver and Toronto. In Canada, the vacancy tax also applies to short-term

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