Page 1547 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008

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that this is an acknowledgement that he has got it wrong all this time, that they have squeezed land supply to the extent that it has pushed housing affordability out of the reach of thousands of Canberrans? It is a fact. It happened primarily under Simon Corbell, but we have seen, under this government, they have not been able to fix it.

In relation to their stifling of competition, we have seen the LDA, which has acted as such a bottleneck in relation to land supply, has continued to do that and has not been responsive to the market. We have long been saying that you need to be managing the land supply; you need to be quickly bringing onto the market land that is ready and have it ready to go when there is an increase in demand. We still have not caught up. The fact that the government is now announcing, in a panicked way, that it is going to release more and more land suggests that it realises and acknowledges at some level how wrong it has got it.

But we also know that this government does not care about first home buyers. Not only has it completely mismanaged the land supply process to put it out of the reach of first home buyers but it also continues to take a massive tax take from many of these young families who, we know, are going to be forced out of the territory as a result.

We saw the recent example of the Yass couple who have grown up—and I have used the example here in the chamber—in Canberra. Katarina grew up in Belconnen and would dearly love to buy a simple home in Belconnen to be able to be near her family but they are simply unable to do so because this government has pushed it out of their reach. We see the sneering response from the Chief Minister. He dismisses as irresponsible giving first homebuyers a chance, giving them some relief from these excessive rates of taxation.

Around the country, we are seeing other Labor governments who actually believe that this is a reasonable thing to do and who do not, as this government does, believe that this is irresponsible. We have seen the New South Wales scheme for first homebuyers, which is very similar, which has been in place since 1 July 2000. On this side of the border, ACT Labor says it is irresponsible to exempt them from stamp duty. On the other side, New South Wales Labor says that it is responsible.

Let us look at that aspect. There are significant offsets in this policy. For every potential homebuyer who chooses as a result of this stamp duty exemption that we are offering to buy in Canberra instead of Queanbeyan, we will not only see approximately $90,000 to $100,000 to the government if they buy a new block, the raw land price, we will see ongoing taxation revenue in terms of rates, in terms of registration, in terms of GST, and we will see them form part of the ACT community in a more real way than if they are forced over the border.

We believe it is affordable, even at our high estimates that we have put in place. We believe there are significant offsets to this policy. This is a policy that will actually get it done for first homebuyers. It is often the case for thousands of young people that it is those initial costs that are the hardest. It is saving that deposit. Many families will save $30,000 or $40,000 and they will be looking to purchase a home for around $350,000 or $360,000.

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