Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 9 Hansard (28 August) . . Page.. 3399 ..
MRS DUNNE (continuing):
The fact that we have stamp duty can be sheeted home to the Australian Democrats. When the GST policy was finally introduced and we decided not to introduce GST on food, one of the costs of that was that we still have stamp duty-and it is spiralling out of control. New homebuyers in the ACT delivered almost $12 million in indirect taxes in the last financial year.
The burden of funding community and social infrastructure has been unfairly shifted onto purchasers of new housing, instead of onto the broader community. We are seeing Treasurers across the country nobbling the great Australian dream. If Mr Quinlan were running a horse race, he would have been hauled before the stewards long ago.
How serious is Labor on this matter? I have to ask the question: is the ghost of John Dedman still alive across the way? When the Commonwealth announced an inquiry, it was called a publicity stunt. I have yet to hear an argument against such an inquiry. How else are we to address the problem without knowing how much we can do about it?
I am pleased that organisations such as the HIA have put forward ideas on the subject of the addressing of housing affordability, and I welcome them. It is worth considering pressing the Commonwealth to remove the double taxation of new housing developments, by eliminating development taxes from the application of the GST. State and territory governments could act positively and constructively in excluding the GST paid on new housing from stamp duty.
The Treasurer says these things cannot be done, but that is not good enough. In South Australia, a serious attempt has been made to ease the burden by introducing full concessions on, or exemptions from, stamp duty up to a stipulated threshold value of the property being purchased. I know we are moving in that direction. However, the South Australian model is more adventurous and is more realistic in the house prices.
South Australia has pressing economic problems-far more pressing than in the ACT-yet they can see fit to introduce relief for first homebuyers. Why can't we do that here? Let me mention a novel idea from the Prime Ministerial Task Force on Home Ownership, which commissioned a study by the Menzies Research Centre.
We are somehow attached to the notion of debt financing but, as the report suggests, if we would wean ourselves from the notion of the invisibility of the housing asset-which simply means allowing individuals to hold less than 100 per cent of the equity-we would have a whole new ball game.
Figures from South Australia applying to a notional $250,000 debt show how, under this new financing proposal, the sum borrowed would need to be $212,000 but, under a scheme of both debt and equity financing, the sum falls to $148,750. Therefore, by coming up with an innovative way of sharing the debt and sharing the title to the land, we can make a saving of 30 per cent. It has been market-tested. Similar proposals are in operation through some of the merchant banks, but we do not see any enthusiasm here in the ACT for coming up with these things.
There are other measures which could be looked at, because the ACT is the principal landowner in the territory. The ACT's policy on planning says that it proposes to set