Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1621 ..
DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (3.36): It is worth setting the political context of this budget. It is an election year. The ALP has had majority government for four budgets. Last year it guillotined debate because it got late. This year there is a big financial cake to cut up due to the harsh 2006 functional review.
In the ACT the Treasurer is also the Chief Minister, cutting out an important line of scrutiny. I cannot imagine that the Chief Minister doffs his Treasurer’s hat and dons the crown of chief ministership to apply a holistic view to the economic rationalist approach of the modern treasurer.
The government will be able to predict the reactions of its main opposition—the Liberal Party. I am sure it has predicted those reactions, because the Liberal Party’s reactions do not vary, despite changes in leaders and shadow treasurers. Mr Mulcahy will always call for tax cuts. No doubt the government thinks it has a handle on the Greens’ approach after 13 years, and I like to think that it respects our views and even takes on some of our suggestions in subsequent budgets.
The Liberal Party usually takes a line in a general context of grumpy carping. This time the Liberal Party is relying on attack and criticism and a couple of initiatives, like the dropping of taxes and holus-bolus grants via stamp duty exemption to a cohort of people regardless of their incomes, benefiting greatly the building industry. I have not yet seen evidence of a program guiding the Liberals’ responses or suggestions. Most of its initiatives seem ad hoc and based on the vote-winning issue of the day. This year it is housing affordability, and it has adopted a perspective which it thinks is likely to get the most votes.
DR FOSKEY: Mr Speaker, if this were my classroom, I would have called it to order, absolutely.
MR SPEAKER: Order! Will people take their conversations outside the chamber, please.
DR FOSKEY: Thank you. To help people have secure, decent, affordable housing, why tie subsidies to particular groups of people and focus on just one of the housing options? Why just the first home buyer, for instance, typically presented as a young, heterosexual couple with children in their eyes? What about people who lost their homes through life’s circumstance or the inability to maintain loan payments? Why not allow access to the equivalent of average stamp duty exemption to support access to housing in other ways, such as the bond for rental dwellings, entrance to a housing cooperative or co-housing?
In the kind of housing market we have, encouraging a diversity of tenures is a rational response. I do not think the Liberals will deliver it. So far, the government’s support of other options has been limited and, except in a couple of initiatives, limited by a lack of funding and commitment to broadening them since the functional review’s recommendations were so enthusiastically applied.