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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 4 Hansard (3 April) . . Page.. 1374 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

assurance to the people of Canberra for whom housing affordability is a key issue. I think there is a fundamental accountability question here.

More importantly perhaps is the fact that such an approach-avoiding arguably the hard or contentious debates-will not serve those people most desperately in need. If there are hard and contentious issues on which the government cannot agree then I think it is fair enough to state that at this time. Unless our societies develop a far-reaching and profound approach to housing which is adequate and affordable-this is unarguably a government responsibility and is central to the mitigation of poverty for people on low incomes or people who are socially marginalised-then too many people will still find themselves in housing stress.

We need to know that government proposes to address issues of affordable housing in its planning and development legislation and practice. We need to know what it will and what it will not do and why. We need to be able to have a full debate in the Assembly about these issues, once we are informed by government of their understanding of the necessities and their policy response. We need to know what action government is prepared to take to encourage the supply of affordable private rental accommodation. We need to know how the private purchase of affordable housing can be supported by the territory and what impact such strategies would have on land release programs and government revenue. We need to hear the government's response to the proposed annual adjustment of stamp duty thresholds as they apply to home buyers. We want to see evidence of housing affordability being factored into the social accounting of a sustainable territory.

My amendment calls on the government to provide a full response to this report in the interest of leading our community towards a more concerted and comprehensive commitment to affordable housing for all.

MS DUNDAS (4.23): Mr Speaker, I will be speaking to both the substantive motion and the amendment. The Affordable Housing Task Force report has provided us with some very useful information on the incidence and severity of housing stress in our community. This report complements the recent work that has already been done on homelessness.

The report informed us that housing stress was growing in the ACT. Though most people experiencing housing stress are private renters, there is also a substantial number of home owners and home purchasers who are struggling to pay for their housing.

The task force report has told us that the stock of private rental accommodation had fallen in the last five years and that the percentage of rental homes that were affordable for people in the 20-40 per cent income quintile has dropped from 57 per cent in 1998 to only 19 per cent in 2002.

The report came up with some interesting recommendations, such as that affordable housing providers should be exempted from land tax, payroll tax, change of use charges and stamp duty. The task force also proposed that the planning process be streamlined to help promote affordable housing.

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