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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 August 2010) . . Page.. 3506 ..

the provision of affordable housing in the ACT, especially given that the new code will require new blocks in an estate to be a certain size or change the mix of sizes?

MR BARR: I thank Ms Le Couteur for the question. Indeed, one of the elements of DV 301 involves a recommendation or a series of suggested outcomes for varying block sizes within estates. That policy, that draft variation, concurs with the ACT government’s stated policy objective of 20 per cent of new estates having an affordability component. That is, indeed, set through that draft variation in line with that policy. However, it is certainly the view of the government that there is a need for a mixture of different housing types within large new estates. It is not the policy intention that all new estates will be released with small or compact blocks.

Of course, size of the estate is one of the other factors that needs to be considered in this context. In a large estate, such as a suburb, one would anticipate that there would be a variety of different block sizes, noting, of course, the government’s commitment to affordability through a mandated percentage of new housing developments meeting that affordability criterion.

In my view, the totality of the reform agenda as outlined in DV 301 and 303 gets the balance right in terms of affordability and sustainability. There is obviously a variety of views in relation to this. That is why it is a draft variation; that is why it is out on a two-month public consultation process; that is why, of course, the variation will proceed through the usual process in this place of a reference to the planning committee for, I would hope, a detailed examination of the variety of issues contained within it.

The reality for this city is that there is a series of difficult policy choices that we confront in the months and years ahead that involve a series of trade-offs. There are some who have a very strong view in relation to affordability at all costs, and there are others who have a very strong view in favour of sustainability at all costs. There are others who are perhaps looking to move beyond just that very simplistic black-and-white debate and who can see, in fact, that sustainability and affordability can go hand in hand—that is, if you take a long-run look at the affordability issue, indeed, having more sustainable housing is more affordable in the long run. But we do have to work through the issues and the detail in relation to the up-front capital cost versus the long-run operating cost, if you like, of new housing infrastructure.

These are complex issues; they are ones that I believe we need a detailed community debate on. I am pleased that that process, in fact, began in earnest with the sustainable futures program last year. It ran all through 2009, and it led to a draft variation, or a number of draft variations, being put out for public comment. This is the beginning of that more detailed examination. I am fairly sure that, by the time we emerge from the end of this process, there will be some changes to what is proposed in the draft variation, because it is just that—a draft variation out for comment.

We look forward to a considered debate that balances all of the issues, because these are important decisions that we need to make for the future of our city. If we are serious about setting targets for greenhouse gas emissions, we have also got to be serious about setting policies that will achieve those targets.

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