Page 1397 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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In summary, we will not be supporting this bill because it will hurt first home buyers; it will hurt retirees; it will put upward pressure on rent; it will cost jobs; and it will push investment outside the ACT, costing the ACT taxpayer valuable revenue. As stated earlier, the goal is not a bad one. I would suggest, however, that the Greens begin thinking through the real consequences of their proposals. Instead of looking through a narrow prism, I suggest that the Greens should consider how their proposals could have a lot of unintended consequences for many parts of the community and, due to this lack of thought, how the people whom they are trying to help will actually not end up better off. We will therefore not support the bill.

MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (11.02): As you have just heard, the Liberal opposition will not be supporting the Land (Planning and Environment) (Unit Developments) Amendment Bill 2005. Through the whole of this I have found that consultation with the Greens, whilst friendly and amicable, has often been a little bit late. We seem to have been behind the eight ball, as government and opposition, in knowing exactly what their aims are. I urge them to be a bit quicker in consulting with us about what is happening.

This bill was tabled in the last Assembly. Again, the Greens have reviewed that and I respect the fact that they have tried to have another look at this, this time aiming for four per cent of the housing construction, or four per cent of the value of the development, going to affordable housing. Even so, we cannot support this. I would have thought it was of more importance to the crossbench and the opposition to be focusing on, for instance, pressuring the government—or keeping the government accountable—into refocusing its efforts on improved asset management of stock belonging to Housing ACT.

It is well known that in the ACT we have more public housing properties per capita than anywhere else in Australia. To me, something is not quite sitting right, in that we are now saying we need more. In principle we do need more because there are more people on waiting lists and more people in crisis accommodation who cannot get out of that. We need to better manage the system, not keep adding more.

It is fair to say that the problem has been emerging for well over two years, and there is no balance in the forms of housing stock available to Canberrans. The government’s inaction in the provision of affordable housing, and also the encouragement of investment in the property market in Canberra, has led to a squeeze on the hip pockets of those in the rental market. There needs to be more of a balanced approach by the government in how it is tackling this problem. I certainly think the Greens are a little bit off the mark saying, yet again, that we need more public housing properties.

The argument here is that no further pressure should be placed on existing and potential investors in the housing sector who, as my colleague Mr Seselja so succinctly put this morning, through investing should be able to offer a property for rent at a rate that is reasonable, yet which allows them to cover costs and realise a return on their investment.

The government is charged with the provision, as I have said, of some 11,500 housing properties to Canberrans who, where eligible, require a secure form of housing that best suits their current needs which I believe, and the Liberal opposition believes, certainly

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