Page 3235 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 19 August 2008
has claimed to be putting in place. We do need to look at the statistics and there are lots of them around. The ones that particularly point to first homebuyers consistently show that first homebuyers in Canberra are struggling as much as people anywhere.
Jon Stanhope is fond of quoting the statistics which take an across-the-board look at the position. They take into account people who have paid off their homes and others, but when you actually look at the indicators that target those who are buying now or have bought in the last few years, Canberrans do struggle in comparison to the national average.
The report of the Urban Development Institute of Australia titled An industry report into affordable home ownership in Australia 2007 provided a location affordability index rating in the ACT by central, north and west ACT regions. The rating went from affordable in 2001, to serious constraints on affordability and affordability crisis in 2007. All of this occurred in the life of the Stanhope government.
They have changed the situation from one in which housing was affordable for young people in Canberra, where an ordinary family or an ordinary couple could expect that if they worked, that if they saved a bit of money, they would have a reasonable expectation of purchasing a home and not having a 50-year mortgage in order to pay it back. But, of course, that is changing. It has changed under this government and it has changed for a number of reasons. It has changed because they have allowed taxation to get out of hand, particularly on first homebuyers.
As house prices have gone up, the level of stamp duty and the rates at which stamp duty is levied have not recognised the massive growth in house prices. People now are paying levels of stamp duty which were really only meant to be levied on the rich. They were really only meant to be levied on mansions. Now we are seeing ordinary Canberrans forced to pay upwards of $15,000 in tax just for the privilege of owning their first home. We hear the government talk about it, but they have not been prepared to do anything about it. In fact, they have been very keen to continue to take this massive level of taxation from first homebuyers. Of course, that has added to the problem.
We heard Ms MacDonald actually speaking a bit about the government’s conversion to the importance of competition in the market. This is something we have been calling for for a long time. We had this crazy system set up by the former planning minister, Simon Corbell, whereby the Land Development Agency would do all of the development in the ACT, where there was no competition whatsoever when it came to the development of residential land in the ACT. We saw a slight conversion on the part of this government in relation to this issue when it decided to allow some englobo land release—up to one-third, I believe it says in the strategy.
Mr Speaker, we do need to see more competition. We need to see genuine competition. We need to see land that is ready to come online, not constantly playing catch-up. It is worth reflecting on what we have seen in the past few weeks. This was the subject of an article in the Canberra Times titled “Builders buy out great Australian dream”. Builders and young families were all missing out because of this government’s squeeze on land supply and because of their inability to release it