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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 06 Hansard (Wednesday, 25 June 2008) . . Page.. 1992 ..

now beyond the reach of ordinary people, there is something fundamentally wrong with the system that we are running in the country, let alone the system that we are running in the territory. When you think that in the territory we are the owner of the land—the government is the owner of the land, the controller of the land, the holder of the land, and we all get leases on it—then there is something fundamentally wrong.

As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, that has been the disaster that has been this government’s land release policy over the last seven years. All of the reports and all of the submissions, particularly the Reserve Bank’s submissions to the current housing inquiry, clearly indicate that it involves the value of the land. If you want to make housing affordability real and genuine then you have to tackle the land supply issue and make sure there is appropriate land available at all times to allow the market to function properly.

MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (8.55), in reply: I am very pleased that we have reached the position in relation to this legislation that allows us at least now to face the prospect that the bill will be passed today and become law. As we have discussed, the bill will introduce a land rent scheme to the ACT. The ACT is the only state or territory in Australia to offer this innovative approach to addressing housing affordability. More importantly, this initiative is only one, albeit an important one, of 62 initiatives—a significant range of measures—in the government’s affordable housing action plan.

The action plan is the most comprehensive and detailed approach to improving housing affordability in Australia. The plan has received attention both nationally and internationally, with the ACT leading the way in providing affordable housing. The 62 measures contained in the action plan range from increasing land supply to a mandate of cheaper house and land packages in all new greenfield developments. The land rent scheme is another measure, alongside those already implemented, to encourage entry into the private housing market.

The land rent scheme is unique to the ACT and is the first of its kind in Australia. It has been developed to take advantage of the ACT’s unique leasehold land system. The scheme will allow low to moderate-income households to rent the land instead of purchasing it, improving the prospect of homeownership for those households with incomes as low as $50,000 per year. Under the scheme, households will pay rent on their land. The annual rent will be calculated as a percentage of the unimproved value of the block. To help families on lower incomes, the scheme will have two rental rates—a discount rate and a standard rate.

This scheme is not a “lease to buy” scheme and rental payments will not be deducted from the final sale price. However, land renting will provide another option to households to advance their homeownership to an earlier phase of their life than is currently possible for them. Households may eventually choose to purchase the land at the current market value or they may continue to rent the land indefinitely. This scheme has been designed to be flexible depending on each household’s individual circumstances.

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