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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 11 Hansard (Wednesday, 10 November 2021) . . Page.. 3245 ..


MR BARR: For most of my childhood, no, but for some parts, yes. I have lived in units. I have lived in tiny units, sharing a bedroom with my sibling at various points in my childhood. At other points, I have had the opportunity of a backyard—not a large backyard; we were never a rich family. I think the suggestion and implication in Mr Parton’s question is somewhat offensive.

I do not believe that it reflects a situation that is pertinent just to Canberra. This is a national and international issue. When you look at house price inflation across the OECD, you will see that Australia is at the lower end of that. But we are still experiencing—because of low interest rates and because of favourable tax policy settings at a national level—house price inflation that is well above annual wage growth. That is not sustainable.

The market ultimately will correct this, but there are a lot of mechanisms in place to ensure that that correction is very slow. And there are clearly policy settings at a federal level that are there to ensure that more people, that the majority of people who are home owners, do not see the value of their assets decline.

We need to be frank about this. We want housing to be cheaper. That means that the value of everyone’s home has to fall—

Mrs Jones: Or remain stagnant for a period of time.

MR BARR: To allow wages to increase. (Time expired.)

Access Canberra—services

DR PATERSON: My question is to the Minister for Business and Better Regulation. How did customer demand for Access Canberra services change during the lockdown, and how did Access Canberra respond?

MS CHEYNE: I thank Dr Paterson for the question. Very often, Access Canberra is the gateway to government information and services. That did not change during lockdown but, of course, the information that Canberrans were seeking and the number of Canberrans seeking particular information changed markedly.

Prior to the lockdown commencing on 12 August, Access Canberra handled on average around 1,600 calls a day on the regular contact centre line. During the lockdown that number jumped to an average of over 2,700 a day. In addition, during the lockdown Access Canberra handled an average of 1,360 calls per day on the COVID-19 helpline, and that was compared to an average of 290 per day prior to the lockdown.

Scaling up our contact centre was a necessary service change because Access Canberra service centres closed on 12 August in line with the public health directions. During the lockdown period, and once the health situation allowed for it, Access Canberra pivoted to provide bookable appointments to support customers needing to complete one of the small handful of transactions which cannot be completed online.


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