Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1758 ..
This motion is timely. Despite the desperate need for affordable housing, particularly rental properties, the ACT government’s budget has failed to provide any funding to help remedy the problem. This motion offers a way for the government to progress its thinking and devise strategies on affordable housing at little or no cost. It allows us to bring together people working at the coalface with people who are experts on the topic. The task force will have the ability to look at the latest research and programs in other municipalities. I urge the Assembly to support this motion.
The affordable housing task force is well placed to provide independent, balanced and representative advice to the government to improve housing affordability in the ACT. The intent behind this motion is not to shame or blame anyone for the crisis in affordable housing. A chronic lack of affordable housing has been experienced across Australia and is widely thought to be due to myriad factors, not the least of which is the failure of the private housing market to respond to a rapidly increasing need for low-cost single accommodation.
A number of issues touch on this. I note, for instance, that the revitalization of City West will lead to the loss of “homes” or places to sleep for the homeless. When we think about revitalizing our cities, we need to think about where people will go.
Mr Hargreaves: Give them a house. That’s daft.
DR FOSKEY: Yes, of course: let us give them a house.
Mr Hargreaves: Would you rather have them sleeping on the street than in accommodation we are providing?
DR FOSKEY: I think if you believe that is what I said, Mr Hargreaves, you are wilfully misinterpreting me.
Mr Hargreaves: Well, you just said it.
DR FOSKEY: In Australia, state and territory governments and the commonwealth government have been grappling with solutions, as evidenced by the number of reports, inquiries and research articles on the topic produced over recent years. Overseas, there are also many examples of governments testing various approaches, with mixed results. There is broad agreement that access to affordable housing is critically important and provides the basic foundation from which individuals and families can lead healthy and productive lives. Finding policy solutions, and enacting them, to the decreasing availability of affordable housing has proven much more difficult and that is why there are people who are homeless in this town and sleeping wherever they can.
I acknowledge that the ACT government has taken steps to improve housing affordability through such strategies as the affordable housing initiative in last year’s budget, which did see a capital injection of $20 million over the four years 2004 to 2008 for social housing. We have had the first home buyers concession scheme and the low to moderate income land ballots—though I notice the government is now putting emphasis on the word “moderate” rather than “low”, as it is certainly very clear that low-income people cannot afford to buy land even through the land ballots. We have also seen an