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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1765 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

I have talked already about reporting and measurement and will not do so again, but I will talk about housing as housing is a fundamental part of social sustainability. As house prices and rents increase at horrifying rates, driven in part by a desire to invest outside the fluid stock market, people without money or who are discriminated against in the market are finding it more and more difficult to be housed. It is extremely difficult for people who have the money to find rental housing or buy a house. As the Chief Minister said in his press release, safe, affordable housing is the right of everyone in the community.

In addition to market forces, the housing market is also defined by planning controls and land release programs and we cannot look at affordability without looking at planning controls. That is why it is particularly disappointing that none of the developments approved in the past few years have affordability requirements, much less public housing, factored into them.

Despite efforts at the application level to instil some sense of responsibility in the case of the Kingston Foreshore and the Metropolitan, when things came to the crunch it was not carried through. I would like to see the ACT government take up a recommendation by the Western Australian housing affordability task force on state-owned land sold for redevelopment for housing that a minimum of 10 per cent be allocated either to increase affordable housing on the existing site or to be set aside for affordable housing in alternative locations.

Land releases could be targeted not only to generate maximum revenue but also to provide a supply of lower cost blocks. If land releases are informed by revenue and not by equity or affordability, nor by ecological limits, they cannot be called part of a sustainable society. A concern to maximise revenue might dictate holding on to areas currently less popular until the others have been sold. An integrated approach to social sustainability and to affordable housing would factor in those considerations.

Taking the Metropolitan as an example, the task force's recommendations were complex, it is true, but there is a clear commitment to affordability, something both the developers and the planning authorities understood. An answer to a question of mine tabled yesterday tells us that, prior to the DA, the applicant of the Metropolitan had indicated that the development would contribute positively to the overall supply of affordable housing in Canberra through, amongst other things, the overall impact on price that would flow from the injection of 343 one, two, three and four-bedroom residential units into the market.

Based on recent experience, surely that was a bold claim to make. While fresh supplies of apartments have been popping up everywhere, the prices of what were previously affordable rental and purchase units have doubled in some places. A flat that could have been bought for $95,000 can now only be bought for $195,000, and the rent on that place in the future will not be affordable. This is an area where government must take strong action and now, when prices are so high, is the time to do so.

I am concerned that the commitment to rebuilding public housing properties after the fire includes the decision that rural properties will be rebuilt in the urban areas. Why now?

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