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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 14 Hansard (12 December) . . Page.. 4427..

MR WOOD (continuing):

with appointments made in February 2002. The chair of the Housing Advisory Committee, Ms Chris Purdon, was appointed chair of the task force. Fourteen other members were appointed from government, business and the community sector.

The terms of reference were deliberately broad. They required the task force to identify levels of housing need and housing stress in the community and to recommend strategies to government to both increase the supply of affordable housing and improve housing affordability levels in the community generally.

The task force was initially required to report by the end of October. However, members felt that important data, only recently available, from the 2001 census should be included to give the most accurate statistical analysis of housing available.

I have just received the report and released it for public information and debate today. I am highly impressed with the level of effort, detail and independent research that the task force has provided as part of this report, to inform both the Assembly and the broader community.

I am also tabling three background papers that the task force has produced to accompany the main report: paper 1, Consulting the community on housing affordability; paper 2, Affordable housing: towards an appropriate assisted strategy; and paper 3, The role of land and planning mechanisms in providing affordable housing. These papers provide details of the research commissioned by the task force.

I acknowledge the substantial efforts of the consultants and organisations that contributed to the task force's deliberations. I thank Ms Purdon, members of the task force and the secretarial staff for their work in the preparation of the report. They worked exceptionally long hours to address a fundamental issue facing many. The report has drawn on the knowledge of many people with diverse interests and points of view. It has not set out to gain unanimity on every issue. It presents, rather, a wide range of options for consideration and action.

The key questions now are how to address the issues raised and how to make a genuine difference to the lives of households facing the burden of stress of living with high housing costs. These are questions for the government, the Assembly, our public institutions, those facing this dilemma and the wider business and community sectors-indeed, all Canberrans. We must see that this report makes a difference.

Although I have just received this report, a number of issues have become immediately apparent. One is the level of housing stress in the community. Over 9,200 households in the ACT are in the bottom 40 per cent of income levels and are paying more than 30 per cent of their income on housing costs-a level universally acknowledged as placing people in stress. This number should be of concern to all members of the Assembly and to the broader community.

The other point is that the report covers a very broad area and scope and contains 46 recommendations affecting public and community housing, the private rental market, home ownership, land and planning systems, financial incentives and government assistance. An approach across government and the community at large will be required in the beginning to address such a wide range of issues.

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