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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 6 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2144 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

government land development and its handing over of both the function, and the profits to be made, to the private sector.

We are pleased to see that the Liberals are supporting this one. Their earlier persistent objection to this policy stemmed from their ideological position that government enterprise cannot be good and from their concern for the interests of developers who formerly were able to reap profits. The major returns will be seen in future budgets, but auction results to date provide an indication of the soundness of the move, with strong demand and high prices.

But there are tensions between the government's interest in maximising its return on the development of land and its policy commitments to housing affordability, sustainability and, in particular, the preservation of endangered communities of high quality lowland grassy woodland. The government's decision to put forward Bonner, Forde, and East O'Malley for development before the lowland woodland strategy has been finalised gives us an unfortunate indication of the government's idea of appropriately balancing these considerations.

With regard to affordability, I note that Minister Wood has asserted, in his response to the affordable housing task force report, that the land release program, by providing land for 2,400 homes, is of itself "meeting demand, providing stability and affordability, and meeting housing affordability objectives".

While adding to the land supply must certainly make some contribution to satisfying the intense demand that has been driving up prices, in what other ways does it provide affordability and meet housing affordability objectives as asserted, given that auctioning is the method used to capture the highest prices that the market can offer and thus militates against affordability?

In response to the specific recommendation that the Land Release Program should identify sites for allocation to affordable housing providers at a subsidised price, the government only agrees in principle and says that it will consider this in the context of both the Land Release Program and the development of the Land Development Agency.

We look forward to seeing how the government translates its agreement in principle into action. I understand from Minister Corbell's response to our motion on East O'Malley back in March that the government has continually revised the land use program to respond to new circumstances and new pieces of information coming to light. So I am comforted by the knowledge that we need not wait until the next budget.

With the imminent establishment of the Land Development Agency, I very much look forward to a creative and positive response to the government's housing affordability and environmental objectives. No doubt, this will involve bold price subsidies for affordable housing providers and the revocation of proposed development sites at Forde, Bonner and O'Malley that would entail the destruction of endangered yellow box/red gum woodland. This would certainly be in keeping with the Land Development Agency's legislated requirement to perform its functions "in compliance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development", which is defined to be achievable through implementing, among other principles, "the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity"and "the intergenerational equity principle".

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