Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3398 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
$8 million is to be used for the replacement in urban areas of public housing destroyed in rural areas by the fires. That does address affordable housing-it does replace existing housing that was destroyed-but it does not go to the core of addressing affordable housing.
The eight dot points in the minister's statement on the budget initiatives to address affordable housing are very thin on the ground and few refer to the ACT Affordable Housing Taskforce. Here we have seen a failure of this government to grasp the nettle on what we all know is an exceedingly difficult problem. What we find here is a lack of political will.
The Treasurer has been busy of late, telling us that it is a problem of market forces and that nothing can be done to intervene. Mr Quinlan is a pass master at doing nothing and spends much of his time on his feet in here denying that he has any power to act. It seems to me to be not so much that he lacks power, but that he lacks ideas of his own.
It is not sufficient for this Labor government to shrug its shoulders and blame market forces. It is not sufficient to sit on your hands and condone the barrier that is being erected against entry into the home market. The market force excuse is a cop-out-and it is a feeble one. Of course governments have scope to act-especially when you look at the government take in home purchases. Somewhere between 20 and 35 per cent of the purchase price of a new house and land package goes in indirect taxes. Some of those are stamp duty and others are GST. All the GST comes back to the state and territory governments.
That is something like a quarter to a third of the total slug of a house. Is this a reasonable state of affairs? Is this how you get people into housing? One of the findings of the previous government's inquiry into poverty was that one of the single biggest determinants of poverty was people not having suitable, permanent, stable housing. We have a government which has put out its four-volume novel but now we have ministers who say it is just too difficult.
Is it appropriate for government to sit back, wipe their hands clean and say there is nothing they can do? Now is the time for creative thinking, but we are not seeing this from the government. Especially when they are rolling in receipts from stamp duties, we could see a little bit of innovation. I would like to encourage some creative thinking on housing affordability and even offer to work with the government and the crossbenchers on ways to keep the Australian dream within the reach of the people of the ACT.
There are many issues to be addressed here and the Treasurer playing Pontius Pilate on the issue is not good enough. The Housing Industry Association has drawn attention to this. In one of its recent publications, it states that spiralling state and local government taxes on new housing are destroying the home ownership aspirations of young Australians. That is spiralling taxes which go into this Treasurer's revenue bucket. The fact that we have punitive stamp duties can be sheeted right home to the Labor Party.
When John Hewson introduced the GST program called Fightback more than a decade ago, one of the principal policy aims was to do away with indirect taxes such as stamp duty and other additional indirect taxes.