Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 August 2018) . . Page.. 3326 ..
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (4.08): I will touch on a few issues with regard to land supply and housing affordability. It is interesting that I should follow on from Ms Le Couteur’s contribution to this debate, particularly with regard to her stated principle that greenfield cannot keep on going on forever. Contrary to the Greens’ view, I believe there is plenty of land in Canberra. I know some people in Canberra that disagree with me, but plenty of land is available for construction. It is the ACT government that has created this artificial shortfall of land which has, of course, driven up the cost of land to a point where it is near $1,000 a square metre and in some instances more than $1,000 a square metre.
It is all very well for the Greens to come into this place and say that they are against greenfield development, but since Ms Le Couteur was elected to this place in 2008 we have seen Casey, much of Harrison, Throsby, much of Bonner, much of Forde, Jacka, Coombs, Wright, Denman, west Belconnen and numerous other suburbs and greenfield estates. I do not think it has been enough, quite frankly. But it begs the question whether the Greens really believe this rhetoric. How can you have all these suburbs done under their watch, when they have had the balance of power, yet they say they do not want greenfield? Obviously, they are just as addicted to the revenue from land sales as the Labor Party is.
The difference with our commitment to supplying more land is that our motivation for supplying more land to the market is so that more people can achieve home ownership. I believe people want to have their own block of land. The government’s own survey says the vast majority of people at some stage in their life want to have a house and a block of land. They want that detached home on land, which is the great Australian dream. It is so disappointing that we have had a government that, through their own levers, has put the provision and price of land out of reach for so many Canberra families.
We are yet to see a plan for housing affordability from this government. This government has a vested interest in driving up the cost of land for numerous reasons. The first one is, of course, the sugar hit they get when they sell the block of land and they make big money. But the second is when they sell that block of land for top dollar that then has a huge impact on the unimproved value for that block of land, meaning that for all time the rates a household will pay for that block of land will be extortionate. That is because of the government’s desire to squeeze land supply and drive up the cost of housing.
In the last year median house prices have gone up, second only to Hobart in growth rate. It is not just property prices and sale prices on the rise; rents continue to increase at a phenomenal rate—4.7 per cent over the last quarter, the highest in the country. This government is not just squeezing homebuyers and potential homebuyers but also squeezing renters. It is those bottom two quintiles that the Labor Party used to represent that have been hit the hardest by this government’s housing policy—or lack thereof.
A recent Anglicare report found properties in Canberra have undergone a long-term decline in affordability for low income earners and that no properties reviewed were