Page 43 - Week 01 - Tuesday, 12 February 2008

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MR SMYTH: Chief Minister, will you apologise to prospective first home buyers in the ACT for the government’s policies that have pushed the market almost completely out of their reach?

MR STANHOPE: I thank the member for the question. The housing affordability strategy is being implemented in the ACT, and implemented vigorously. I think it contains 40 actions, and there is progress on each of them. In relation to land supply, the land supply strategy and meeting the needs of lower income earners and those who are in some housing stress, the land supply strategy that was most recently released has been enhanced by 1,000 blocks for this year. There has been a very significant spike within the ACT in demand; there is no denying that. Our agencies, as well as the private sector, are struggling and striving very hard to ensure that supply does meet the level of demand.

The spike in demand, of course, began around two years ago as a result of the last but one commonwealth budget where there was a very significant increase in commonwealth government employment. Over the last two budgets, somewhere between 8,000 and 11,000 additional positions were created by the commonwealth government. I might say, that was done without any consultation with the ACT government or without any consideration of issues in relation to infrastructure or land supply.

It is relevant that as recently as three years ago the Property Council, its members and other members of the development industry of the ACT—the then Minister for Planning and Land Management, Simon Corbell, will remember this well—were pleading to the ACT government to slow down releases.

Mr Seselja: You know they deny that.

MR STANHOPE: Well, once again, it is on the public record. The constant representations from the sector three years ago were to slow down release as the market was being flooded.

Mr Smyth: Mr Speaker, standing order 118 (a) states that answers shall be concise and confined to the subject matter. The subject was whether the Chief Minister will apologise for having pushed house prices out of the reach of ordinary families.

MR SPEAKER: The subject matter also involves housing prices. Mr Smyth, if I can say at this point, your protestations about the standing orders are a little hard to swallow when you constantly interject when questions are being answered.

Mr Smyth: Because he refuses to answer the question.

MR SPEAKER: Come to the subject matter of the question, Chief Minister.

MR STANHOPE: As a result of the sudden increase in commonwealth government employment, there was an enormous spike in construction activity. I think members would recall that last year the ACT exceeded its previous ever high for commercial construction activity. It exceeded 1986, which was the previous record year in relation

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