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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 2 June 2021) . . Page.. 1646 ..


MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (4.56): I rise to speak on behalf of the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Housing and Suburban Development who, as members are aware, is isolating, having been COVID-tested after a ministerial visit to Jervis Bay last week.

In addressing the amended motion from Mr Braddock, I advise the Assembly that both Labor and the Greens entered this term of government clearly committed to providing more housing options for Canberrans. Whilst we have the important debate on the points that Mr Braddock and the Gungahlin Community Council have raised, it is equally important to consider that context.

Since the COVID pandemic, there has been increased demand for housing and increased demand for land. The government is working hard to meet that demand and to continue to invest in the infrastructure necessary to make Canberra a great place to live for everyone, no matter which region of the city that we live in.

In the last sitting period, when this motion was brought forward, the Deputy Chief Minister briefly summarised the content of the parliamentary and governing agreement as it relates to new housing supply. I think it is worth reiterating those ambitious targets that we have set.

The agreement says that we will increase housing supply to meet increased demand, and that we will build 400 new public housing dwellings and 600 more affordable homes. Finally, also relevant to this motion, we will build at least 70 per cent of new housing within Canberra’s existing footprint. These are important commitments, and commitments that all members of the government, both Labor and Greens, signed up to. We are all committed to delivering on them, because the government believes that everyone deserves a dignified place to live in our community.

It is understood and expected that not everyone will want new residential construction in their neighbourhoods. We saw that with the Public Housing Renewal Taskforce. Our program will see public housing built across Canberra and in existing suburbs, because public housing tenants deserve choices about where they live, the same as everyone else.

I do not think anyone here disagrees with that concept, but when sites are actually identified, we quite often hear them described as inappropriate or not suitable for public housing. We have this phenomenon where everyone agrees with the principle that we need more housing and we need more public housing, but then they become specifically opposed to each individual delivery of that general view. That has to be the most frustrating element of debate in this parliament, and often in this community, in relation to the delivery of more housing. We cannot have it both ways. We cannot be generally in favour of more and then specifically opposed to each individual project as it comes forward. All too often, that characterises the debate. That politics has to end. Public housing should be part of every Canberra neighbourhood. At a time when we need more public housing, whether that is in Chapman, Holder, Ainslie, Dickson or in the Gungahlin town centre, there is seemingly always someone calling to cancel it.


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