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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 April 2021) . . Page.. 952 ..


Housing—affordability

MRS JONES: My question is to the Minister for Housing and Suburban Development. The latest Domain rental report showed that Canberra remains the most expensive capital city in Australia to rent a home. The report found that Canberrans are paying up to $150 more per week than renters in other states. Minister, after 20 years of government, why is Canberra the most expensive capital in which to rent a home?

MR BARR: I will take this question, as I think it is all-encompassing of a range of economic factors beyond just that which is occurring within public housing in the ACT. I thank Mrs Jones for the question. We have seen across Australia, in fact, a very significant increase in rents in most major cities, with a couple of exceptions—one being Melbourne, which obviously suffered a significant COVID-related impact in terms of population overall and demand. We are seeing in other markets—Canberra, Hobart and Darwin, for example—smaller capital cities proving to be very popular. When it comes to people moving here as a result of our strong labour market and also the relatively high levels of incomes within the ACT, those certainly contribute to the market settling price, which, as I am sure everyone is aware, is the intersection of supply and demand.

What we will see in the latter part of this year is the normal settlement patterns in the ACT. There is a peak of demand in the first quarter of each calendar year, and then an easing of demand and an increase in supply over the nine months that follow. The government is very conscious of the need to augment supply in the rental market, so we are actively pursuing a range of large-scale build-to-rent projects that would add hundreds, and potentially thousands, of additional rental dwellings into the market, but with a smaller number of institutional owners. We are not pursuing 2,000 mum-and-dad investors here; we are pursuing a handful of large investors to add hundreds and hundreds of additional rentals into the marketplace. It is a program that the Deputy Chief Minister and I are working on. We look forward to rolling it out in the years ahead. (Time expired)

MRS JONES: I have a supplementary question. Minister, do you acknowledge, given that we are the most expensive, that there is currently a rental crisis in Canberra?

MR BARR: We currently have a very low vacancy rate, and that is a reflection of people’s desire to live in this city. It is also a reflection of higher incomes—

Mrs Jones: Of supply.

MR BARR: And it is a reflection of supply. So we are looking to significantly augment supply, and the quickest way to do that is not one property at a time, through mum-and-dad investor models. It is through large-scale, institutional, build-to-rent projects. We have seen a couple of them already delivered by the private sector; I think one in Gungahlin. One is mooted in Manuka, but we are talking about much larger scale institutional investors. I have met with Mirvac and with the super funds. We have a big program ahead. To make the model work you need 200 to 300


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