Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 May 2005 2005) . . Page.. 1763 ..
The final report of the affordable housing task force, entitled Strategies for action, included almost 12 months of investigation into affordable housing in the ACT. I want to pay tribute not only to the former minister Mr Wood for this but also to members of that task force, because they did the job that was needed of them at the time and gave us a very clear direction. The government released its first response to this report in May 2003. This response comprehensively canvassed the recommendations made by the task force and detailed a range of actions to address declining levels of housing affordability. A number of these initiatives were detailed in last year’s budget.
A further response to the final report of the task force was released by the government in August 2004. This response detailed progress in implementing the government’s housing affordability measures and flagged a number of future commitments. In addition, a further 10 recommendations of the task force were agreed to in this response, resulting in a total of 33 recommendations agreed to, nine agreed to in principle and four noted for further investigation.
An interdepartmental committee on affordable housing continues to oversee implementation of the government’s response to recommendations of the affordable housing task force. Do we have a strategy? Well, you would hope so, if you have got a committee to oversee it, would you not? What we have is an interdepartmental committee doing just that. So why would I want to go and create another committee to do it while I have got one already in existence? This committee also monitors and reviews affordable housing progress and innovation nationally and internationally and considers new affordable housing initiatives and opportunities that may be appropriate for the ACT—another point raised by Dr Foskey. Go and have a look at South Australia. Go and have a look at all of these other places anywhere between here and Venezuela that she rattles off from a list. Guess what? That interdepartmental committee does just that: it reviews progress and innovation nationally and internationally. And whom does it advise? The government. Additionally, that committee regularly engages with key stakeholders in the housing sector, such as Shelter, the Housing Industry Association, and the MBA through industry briefings conducted by the LDA.
The government, therefore, does not support reconvening an affordable housing task force. Revisiting this process is unnecessary, as it would be a retrograde step and a duplication of previous and current work. This should not be taken to indicate that the government is not committed to and does not support affordable housing. This government regards affordable housing as an important issue on which it will continue to focus.
Let me also strike yet another word of warning. I have done this publicly a few times. Mrs Burke will have heard me say it, and I know that in this regard I have her support. There has been a focus hitherto on affordable housing concentrating on home ownership. That is fine to a degree, but there are people in our community who will never be able to buy their own home. There are people in this community who never want to buy their own home, for reasons known only to themselves—and good on them. It is about choice. Freedom is about choice. The absence of choice is the absence of freedom.
I do not denigrate those that have concentrated on home ownership as the panacea when it comes to affordable housing evils, but I signal these words of warning: we need to take