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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1539 ..

Postponement of order of the day

Motion (by Mr Wood ) agreed to:

That executive business order of the day No 3 be postponed until the next sitting.

First Home Owner Grant Amendment Bill 2002

Debate resumed from 11 April 2002, on motion by Mr Quinlan:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (11.50): Mr Speaker, the Liberal Party will be agreeing with this bill. It extends a very successful scheme to assist people to get into housing. We think it is an important thing to be supportive of. It was introduced as part of the changeover arrangements with the federal government's introduction of GST. The success of the scheme can be seen quite clearly in the buoyancy of the ACT housing market, which predictions indicate must either plateau or decline.

The first home owner grant is one of the successful elements that have led to the continuation of the housing boom, which is good for jobs and the economy. It has assisted individuals to get a kick start to get ahead so that they can buy their castle, their family home. The Liberal Party will be supporting the First Home Owner Grant Amendment Bill 2002.

MR WOOD (Minister for Urban Services and Minister for the Arts) (11.52): I rise also to support the bill as an important measure and to take the opportunity to make some related remarks about housing. This bill is about helping make home purchase more affordable for people in the ACT. That is certainly something the government considers to be a major priority.

It is well publicised that due to low interest rates and the continuation of the first home owner grant scheme home purchase affordability continues to increase across Australia. There is a reservation on that I will come back to. The scheme has allowed more people into home ownership, and that is a good thing. In the end I believe that many people moving into home ownership, especially in the last few months, are going to have to pay more for their houses, because the price of houses has changed so much.

In the ACT worrying signs and trends are starting to emerge, pointing to a potential long-term decrease in affordability. I want to use this debate to mention a few of those indicators. The report on housing affordability issued by the Housing Industry Association of Australia and the Commonwealth Bank indicates that affordability has fallen for the last two consecutive quarters-that is, by 1.5 per cent in the March 2002 quarter and by 2 per cent in the December 2001 quarter.

Again, on the other major national indicator, the home loan affordability indicator issued by the Real Estate Institute of Australia and the AMP, home loan affordability declined in the ACT over the December quarter in 2001. The ACT was the only state or territory to show such a decrease in home loan affordability.

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