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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 6 Hansard (16 May) . . Page.. 1736 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

I have established an affordable housing task force because I am concerned about the increasing problems facing low to moderate earners in the ACT market. In tackling the issue of affordable housing in Canberra, I am working closely, as always, with the Minister for Planning.

There are no easy solutions to this problem. How to expand the supply of affordable housing has proved a challenge for all governments in Australia, particularly those in high-cost areas such as Canberra. For this reason, the task force is a collaborative process drawing on the skills and expertise of industry, government and the community; looking at a range of financing, planning, land development and social housing options; and learning from the experience of other models of affordable housing across Australia.

The work of the task force is closely linked with the important planning processes the government has initiated, particularly in relation to the Canberra plan and the neighbourhood plans. Affordable housing is a key aspect of social sustainability and will be a major challenge to be addressed in planning Canberra's future.

The challenge of responding to housing needs is a complex issue. It is one that requires us to look at the housing system in its entirely and its complexity and to develop a number of multifaceted and coordinated strategies.

A priority for the government over the next year will be negotiating a new Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. Last month housing ministers met in Sydney to discuss future directions for the next CSHA. Ministers committed to further work in developing options for an agreement that will:

create a modern sustainable housing system;

support community development and the renewal of public housing estates;

support wider government outcomes in health, education and labour market reform; and

stimulate private sector investment in the supply of low-cost housing.

A national approach to these challenges was considered vital.

While the Commonwealth has given a commitment that it will enter into another agreement, I am concerned about the level of funding that will be provided for housing assistance under the next agreement.

Since 1996 there has been a 22 per cent decline in real terms in the ACT's funding under the CSHA. Further reductions in Commonwealth funding for housing assistance will jeopardise the ability of our public housing system to meet the needs of those most in need in our community.

While we need to investigate ways to work in partnership with the private sector to expand the supply of affordable housing, social housing continues to be a major platform for effectively responding to housing needs.

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