Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 16 November 2010) . . Page.. 5405 ..

of the proposal. It is interesting, though, that when you go through them year by year, in the 2000-01 financial year there was one; in 2001-02 there were two applications; in 2002-03 there was one application that got over the threshold; in 2003-04 it was six; in 2004-05 it was six applications; in the 2005-06 financial year it was five applications; in 2006-07 it was seven; in the 2007-08 year it was 13; in 2008-09 it was eight; and in 2009-10 it was 28. So they are relatively small numbers.

I did ask the question: was there any analysis of whether these were rich people or rich kids or kids of rich people or whether, in that number, there were people of modest means who, through thrift and hard work, had managed to purchase the home of their dream in a more desirable location? Unfortunately, that data has not been available. Given that it is a national approach, it is logical that the ACT accept that approach at the same level that has been set in other states.

I note that the government wishes this bill to be dealt with in the sitting following the introduction of the bill. In this case, I am prepared to support this approach, as the proposals are relatively minor, and their implementation from 1 January 2011 will facilitate a national uniform scheme, and this will benefit prospective applicants across Australia.

I also note that we agree with the government’s proposed amendments to clarify that each of these three amendments will apply from 1 January 2011. Mr Speaker, we support the bill.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (10.59): The first homeowner grant scheme is an initiative with a very interesting history. The scheme has been the subject of considerable criticism and controversy, including the very important High Court case on freedom of information, McKinnon v Secretary Department of Treasury in 2004. The then federal Treasurer Peter Costello’s decision to issue a conclusive certificate on Treasury data on the scheme gave rise to significant concerns about the scheme very early on. We now know after 10 years of operation that the scheme has not been successful and has not assisted those who really need it.

Ten years on, with more than $10 billion spent nationally by state and territory governments, $187 million of that here in the ACT, and with the benefit of reports from the Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability in Australia, the Productivity Commission and now the OECD, it is appropriate that we carefully consider the efficacy of the scheme and have a serious look at whether this expensive scheme is actually delivering a benefit to the community.

All these reports I mentioned found that the scheme is not as successful as it had hoped to be. Most recently, the OECD report found that “subsidies to demand benefiting first homebuyers should be phased out, and redirected to raising supply”. If our objective is affordable housing, as it should be, what this means is that we should use these funds for initiatives that actually increase the availability of affordable housing and do not just inflate the cost of housing for everyone.

The Greens support capping the scheme, so we will be supporting the bill today. We also support the other small changes to make the eligibility requirements the same as

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Sittings . . . . PDF . . . . Video