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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 12 Hansard (19 November) . . Page.. 4359 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

better off financially when offering a lower rent, once vacant periods, property damage and skipped rent are taken into account.

It is also important to recognise that the ACT is the only jurisdiction where land tax is imposed on rental properties no matter what the value of that property is. In New South Wales, the tax does not affect properties with an unimproved value of less than $205,000. In Victoria the minimum threshold is $125,000, and in Queensland it is $200,000. So in these jurisdictions land tax is not a cost that landlords offering affordable housing usually have to deal with. Higher land tax thresholds based on either improved or unimproved land values could be an alternative way of addressing the problem of private rental market prices.

Low-income tenants cannot afford to be paying a surcharge of $3 or more on their weekly rent, and they cannot afford exorbitant electricity and water bills. The market is not delivering enough affordable rental housing, so government intervention is needed. I know when we have had debates like this before, the government has said the market takes control-the market is as the market does and the government cannot intervene in the market. I want the government to investigate whether or not it can, through the provision of land tax, actually make a difference to how private rental market prices are going.

When tenants can access cheaper weekly rents, they usually end up paying a lot extra to cover the costs attributable to poor insulation and inefficient electrical appliances. And, while the government has strongly promoted rebates for home owners in relation to how they make their housing more energy efficient, at present there is no financial incentive for a landlord to spend money on measures that lower overall living costs for tenants. That is why the second part of my motion calls for incentives for landlords to install energy and water efficiency measures in rental dwellings-to bring down the overall cost of housing-because, as we know, when we talk about affordable housing, we are not just talking of the amount that is paid on rent or on mortgage repayments. We are looking at the whole cost of living in that property, which includes electricity bills, water bills and gas bills. And because so many of the rental houses in Canberra are inefficient to heat, the electricity costs are a lot higher.

The report of the affordable housing task force shows that there are about 3,800 households in the private rental market who are in housing stress. Land tax measures and incentives for energy and water efficiency could help reduce the number of households experiencing housing stress. I believe that the government is best placed to do this investigation and determine the best way to alleviate the negative effect of land tax on the supply of affordable private rental housing.

So my motion calls for the government to investigate and to report to the Assembly by June 2004. It gives them six or seven months to complete a study, to see whether or not it is feasible to have a land tax concession scheme and whether or not it will impact on the provision of affordable private rental in the ACT.

We need the government to look at what is going on with land tax, and in the private rental market, and to be brave enough to say, "Well, maybe we can make a difference in the market". That is what my motion calls for. I hope the Assembly sees this motion for what it is. It is starting a process for an investigation into how we can intervene in the

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