Page 954 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 25 February 2009

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number of ways how we can do things better. We can do it through streamlining the planning system. We can do it through better targeted land release policies. We can do it through cutting taxes for first homebuyers. There are a number of ways that we can make housing more affordable—and this mob has failed on every one of them. That is why John Hargreaves had to run away after that ridiculous speech.

Mr Hargreaves: What? I’m here. What do you mean “run away”; I’m here.

MR SESELJA: If there was one message that we got from Mr Hargreaves, it was a new defence to the land rent debacle, and the defence is this: it was never really meant to do much. That is what John Hargreaves was saying to us: “It wasn’t a panacea. No, please, we never expected people to put too much store in this.” It was the centrepiece of your policy—

Mr Hargreaves: Absolute rubbish and you know it. You know it is rubbish.

MR SESELJA: and it is a failure, and you are running away from it now. You are telling us that really it was never meant to be that important. “There are all these other things that we are doing.”

Mr Hargreaves: You are making it up. You are trying to scramble out from under because you are trying to make it up.

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, Mr Hargreaves!

MR SESELJA: He points to land release. He points to englobo land release, something we have been calling on for years and something that had been resisted by the minister for years. They squeeze land release and he said: “Isn’t it wonderful? We stopped squeezing it for a little while. We allowed a bit more land to trickle out,” having squeezed it for years and pushed prices up and pushed it out of the reach of first homebuyers. He sees that as a success. So they are the two successes. There is the land rent scheme, which Mr Hargreaves did not even attempt to defend, essentially saying: “Well, it was never that important. It wasn’t central to our affordability strategy.” The fact is it was cobbled together in an election year to try to pretend that this government had some credibility on housing affordability. It is a failure and hundreds of Canberra families have been offered false hope as a result of this. They, in the words of one of the individuals, have been led astray by the government. They have been led up the garden path.

The defences are quite pathetic. We are going to hear more and more: “It’s the global financial crisis; that’s what it is.” That is Mr Stanhope’s defence now: “It’s not the scheme. It’s not that it was a dud scheme; it’s the global financial crisis.” But people who have spoken to us say that not only were they knocked back in July—these are people with a good savings history, with a good credit history, who were knocked back in July—they were knocked back in August and they are still being knocked back. It was not the global financial crisis which led to them being knocked back. And, in fact, they are not being knocked back for finance altogether. Even now, these people eligible for the scheme are being offered finance—just not for the land rent scheme. They are being offered it on house and land packages.

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