Page 1402 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 6 April 2005

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process which, in my portfolio, the Land Development Agency administers is a great initiative to provide people in that third percentile of income earners the opportunity to get into the housing market, to purchase a block of land at an affordable price and then build their own home. As part of that mechanism we will also be using the moderate income land ballot to provide land to affordable housing providers.

It will be not only a case of individuals being able to access land through the moderate income land ballot but also a matter of affordable housing providers being able to access that land at that price. We will be effectively giving affordable housing providers access to more affordable land to deliver affordable housing outcomes for people who need that level of accommodation.

That is an example of the approach the government has adopted. The housing affordability taskforce looked at these issues comprehensively. It decided that some—whilst on the surface attractive, such as this one—in fact had a counter-intuitive effect and that it was not appropriate to take the approach advocated today in this legislation.

The government has a strong record on housing and has made a significant investment in improving public housing in Canberra. As Mr Hargreaves has already indicated, over $30 million has gone into public housing to improve and maintain our stock; there has been significant work on homelessness for the first time here in the ACT; there has been significant work on housing affordability through stamp duty remissions and rebates; and significant work through the moderate income land ballot. Those are the approaches that we believe are most appropriate. The approach suggested by Dr Foskey in this legislation is not an approach that the government can support.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (11.21), in reply: Thank you very much for that feedback from both the Labor and Liberal parties; it is much appreciated. I want to note that there has been, I think, a development in the complexity of the debate since the last Assembly. This was debated in June 2004, in a bill introduced by my predecessor, Ms Tucker. For that reason alone I am very glad I put this bill before the Assembly again. I note that I am not the only person who has put bills forward more than once or twice. I also want to note that the bill being debated today was changed to respond to some of the concerns expressed by members in the last Assembly.

After today I am really worried about the approach of both major parties in this Assembly to the poorest people in our community. I want to say it is not enough simply to talk about land ballots and assistance in buying the first home, because there is a very large percentage of people who will never ever be able to consider buying a home. That is a fact, and it makes me wonder about the extent to which people live in the real world. If you think of the necessity of a threshold income of $100,000 to go into the ballot for one of these affordable blocks, then you are not talking about a very large percentage of the population here.

The truth is that we need innovative approaches to solving our housing crisis—because it is a crisis. We tend to leave it to the market. Once upon a time Canberra was a public housing town, as we all know. Now we are tending to leave it to the market. Lo and behold! We make things a little bit more difficult by adding another complexity to the building approval process, for instance.

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