Page 1986 - Week 06 - Wednesday, 25 June 2008

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the equity in their home. Property owners under the land rent scheme are partway between being a full renter and a full purchaser. If there is a property market crash then a person under the land rent scheme is likely to suffer less of a loss than a full owner but more of a loss than a full renter. Conversely, if there is a boom in the property market then a person under the land rent scheme will gain less in equity than a full owner but more than a full renter.

This scheme may not be for everyone. I am the first to acknowledge that. It is likely to be suitable to prospective homebuyers who are either unable or unwilling to enter the property market in a comprehensive way and instead wish to get their foot in the door. I have expressed my reservations about the capacity, in fact, of either party to deliver serious outcomes in terms of affordable housing. But that being said, I see this initiative as one that is a positive step, and it will deliver benefits to some within our community.

Whether or not the scheme is worth while is ultimately an issue for prospective purchasers of land, and I am confident that they are able to weigh up the risks and rewards of the scheme. I will be supporting this bill as a means of giving another option to those who wish to enter the property market.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (8.33): The ACT Greens, over many years, have called for a coherent strategy from the ACT government to address the crisis in housing affordability. The release of a housing affordability action plan last year was, to some extent, a response to that pressure and this bill sets up a scheme which is one of several initiatives designed to address the problem. The housing affordability crisis is not solely a Canberra phenomenon; it exists to varying degrees in all of the major cities of Australia. While land supply is clearly a factor, it is just one of many.

Journalist Peter Martin in the Canberra Times yesterday reported on the coalition-dominated Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability finding that, as housing analysts and the Greens have been saying for years, the commonwealth’s capital gains and negative gearing tax concessions have made a major contribution to the extraordinary rise in the price of housing and have benefited the well-off at the expense of the poor. And federal initiatives such as un-means-tested first homebuyer grants, stamp duty exemptions and even rental rebates have added to the price of housing rather than ameliorated them.

The coalition government of the last 11 years needs to accept a lot of the responsibility for that. In that context, then, many initiatives at a territory level, while important, are simply work-arounds for more systemic problems.

A coherent approach to housing affordability needs to include a number of strategies, including planning requirements for affordable housing in all major developments, especially those close to transport links and services. It needs also to include a real and continuing growth in community and public housing; it needs a fair and well-thought-through legislative approach which offers some security of tenure and protection to residents of mobile homes and caravan parks. It also needs, and is now getting, a wider range of block sizes and house configurations, shared equity schemes for residents of public housing and innovative and targeted ways to help people into homeownership, as this land rent scheme aims to do.

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