Page 1553 - Week 05 - Wednesday, 7 May 2008

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Leader of the Opposition believes that it is desirable to run different arms of policy in competition with each other—his one and only policy will push up house prices, and then he wants another one to bring them down. He will release more land and bring the prices down. I would have thought it would have been much better to have the policy arms working together in a consistent manner. The Leader of the Opposition wants to support first home buyers purchasing expensive properties. He has no plan to reduce mortgage costs; he has no plans to increase supply; he has no plans to introduce affordable products.

Through the action plan, the government remains committed to addressing the supply side of the housing market, one which will help make housing more affordable in the long run. It is a real plan, a comprehensive plan and one that is now being adopted by other jurisdictions. Tomorrow the government will be introducing legislation to give effect to the unique and innovative land rent scheme. That is a significant development that from 1 July will help reduce the up-front costs associated with owning a home for low-income households.

Under the scheme households will not need to finance the costs of the land but only the costs associated with the transfer of the land. By way of example, the mortgage payments on a block of land valued at $90,000 will be around $165 a week. In contrast, a household eligible for the discount rate will pay only $35 a week—a saving of $130. (Time expired.)

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (5.45): You can always tell when the Chief Minister is on the ropes by the shrill tone in his voice. Here we have him at his shrillest as he tries to defend the indefensible. He has controlled the market for seven years. He has sold people land at inflated prices and then taxed them as a bonus. Yes, Jon Stanhope’s high taxing bonus has not accommodated the rise in the cost of land and house packages that he has caused. He has not given a single concession. Then he stereotypes people. He picks the most extreme example that he can find and then blathers on for 15 minutes without offering a credible alternative to the proposition. That is the Chief Minister.

It is his standard ploy; it is the way he always works. We on this side do not accept the view that he has put forward. We have not attacked the housing affordability package that he has put on the table. Indeed, the only criticism that one can make of it is that it has taken to so long to get here.

This issue was first addressed in the poverty task force report that the former Liberal government started in the year 2000 conducted by Bishop Pat Power. This issue has been there since. It was only last year that the Chief Minister, dragged kicking and screaming, put his answer on the table. But his answer ignored the cause of the problem.

If he has not read it, he should read the opening address to the Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability in Melbourne on 24 April this year by the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia. The Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia—one of the individuals who have presided over the interest rate rises that Mr Stanhope is so willing to trot out—had this to say about house prices:

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