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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 2 Hansard (7 March) . . Page.. 360..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

properties; and revising the eligibility for stamp duty concessions, at $5.2 million, to encourage home ownership.

The Stanhope government is committed to improving the affordability of housing in the ACT and to supporting those in our community to find safe, secure and appropriate housing. These initiatives have certainly helped. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that we cannot keep doing that alone. We cannot forget or underestimate the role that the Australian government plays in it all.

The issue of housing affordability is not unique to the ACT and there are, we believe, considerable national challenges for the Australian government, particularly in the areas of taxation and income support reform. We have long argued that the Australian government has an important role to play in the development of a national housing policy, in an ongoing commonwealth-state housing agreement and in further assisting people in the private rental market through commonwealth rental assistance-the CRA.

The CRA is the major national policy lever to influence affordability in the private rental market. As members know, it is a non-taxable supplementary payment made by the Australian government to help recipients of income support payments with the cost of private rental housing. Nationally, 35 per cent of CRA recipients continue to pay more than 30 per cent of their incomes on rent, figures that suggest that the CRA could be better designed by the Australian government to reduce housing stress.

In regard to public housing, the ACT, like other jurisdictions, is faced with declining commonwealth funding in real terms under the commonwealth-state housing agreement. The Housing Ministers Conference will be held on 16 June 2006. I am advised that this conference is likely to consider national action on affordable housing, a CSHA evaluation, a national housing summit and indigenous housing issues.

The Stanhope government will continue to work both locally and nationally to progress housing affordability issues and we will continue to do so in an open and consultative manner. As can be seen from the figures of which I have just advised the house, the Stanhope government, since coming to office in 2001, has injected huge amounts of money into this really serious issue. Contrast that with the fact that when we came to government in 2001 the public housing stock was some 1,000 properties short.

Mrs Burke: You know why that was.

MR HARGREAVES: Yes, I know why that was so, Mr Speaker. Mrs Burke asks whether I know why that was. Yes, I do. While the Leader of the Opposition had stewardship of that portfolio, the fact of the matter is that the stock went down by 1,000 properties.

Mrs Burke: What about the $30 million election promise?

MR HARGREAVES: The mooing from across the chamber will not make the slightest bit of difference to me, Mr Speaker. The simple fact is that under Mr Wood's leadership as part of the Stanhope government in 2001 there were gigantic steps forward in addressing affordable housing and homelessness. I think that the Stanhope government of 2001 to 2004 should be congratulated sincerely on the amount of funding that it has

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