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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 1541 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

In New South Wales, the government has begun to address this issue with the release of heavily subsidised house and land packages. The New South Wales government's land developer, Landcom, has announced the release of up to 63 houses to be sold by ballot at prices between $150,000 and $230,000, compared with the expected market prices of between $280,000 and $360,000.

What strikes me as especially interesting is the rationale given by the New South Wales government for this form of intervention in the market. That is, without an increase in the supply of affordable housing, Sydney is in danger of losing many of its service professionals such as teachers, nurses and tradespeople, a similar fate that has threatened high-priced cities such as London and places such as Silicon Valley in the US.

All of this background gives me a pretty good impression that this government is on the right track in the formation of an affordable housing task force, which is due to report by the end of October this year. They have a pretty difficult task ahead of them. The task force is looking at the increasing problems of affordability for a group of people who will never be able to purchase a property. They fall beyond the help that is available in the legislation Mr Quinlan has brought in.

The task force is undertaking a comprehensive process of research, consultation, analysis and investigation into the range of factors impacting on affordability and possible solutions. I have recently met with the chair of the task force, Ms Christine Purdon, and am tremendously impressed with the progress this group is making and the range of options they are considering.

I should conclude by saying that this government considers that an adequate supply of affordable housing should contribute many worthwhile things to our society and should be something we all strive together to achieve. Access to secure, affordable and appropriate housing is central to health and wellbeing. It provides the basic foundation from which individuals and families are linked with employment, education and other services, and facilitates participation in the wider community. The city's economy and the whole community benefit if people on lower incomes can access affordable housing located in proximity to employment and activity centres.

The availability of affordable housing contributes social cohesion and the development of stronger, safer communities. In Canberra the provision of affordable housing will enhance social diversity and balance in neighbourhoods. Affordable housing is a key element in Canberra's sustainable development and contributes to the quality of the built environment by providing a range of appropriate housing options that are integrated with the surrounding area.

Affordable housing should be part of an integrated and equitable housing system that includes the spectrum of housing tenures from rental to ownership. In a ministerial statement of Thursday I will have something to say about public housing. This bill, as well as the work of the affordable housing task force, should go some way towards addressing and helping to achieve these very worthy aims.

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