Page 956 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 25 February 2009

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Amendment agreed to.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (11.36), by leave: I move the following amendment that I referred to in my speech:


“(3) refers the land rent scheme to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts for inquiry and report.”.

The opposition believes the amended motion is a much weaker version of what is required and one can only assume that, because the Greens and the ALP voted to put this flawed system in place last year, what they are doing now is stopping an inquiry that will really get to the heart of what is going on in this failed land rent scheme.

It is interesting that the minister responsible for the act, the Treasurer, is not here and has not spoken. Indeed, the primary agency responsible for the land squeeze and the failure of housing affordability in the ACT, the planning minister, has not even bothered to attend. This is symptomatic of the way in which Labor has approached this problem. We saw it with Mr Quinlan’s quick-fix rates amendments that seemed like a good idea at the time.

Clearly, this is another one of those ideas that simply seemed like it was a good idea at the time—and it has failed. It is the notion of having to do something, to be seen to be doing something. We have had the dreadful admission from Mr Hargreaves that not even they expected it to be a panacea of much impact or much effect. Again, that just heightens the need for an inquiry into this—what did the Chief Minster describe it yesterday as—“still breathing” land rent scheme. Well, “still breathing” might in this case be a scheme that is on life support, because it has failed to deliver what they said it would do. It has failed to deliver in eight months a single start of a construction to put a roof over a family in the ACT—a singular failure of policy, which is so common of this government.

That is why it is important to find out what is wrong with the scheme. It is important to find out whether it was flawed right from the start, as we contend. It is important to find out what could be done to rectify the scheme. But it is particularly important, as Mr Seselja has outlined in his motion, to find out which institutions have been consulted and have failed to lend their support and, indeed, which is the supposed institution that has agreed in principle. We need to find out from the people out there what is their accrued stamp duty liability. We need to find out whether or not the government will explore reasonable reimbursement expenses and we certainly need to find out what is going to happen with the stamp duty and other fees and charges. Those are the reasons why it is important to have this inquiry.

We still have not addressed at heart the failure of housing affordability in this city, and it is a failure that can be laid well and truly at the feet of the Chief Minister and the Treasurer, because it is their policies that have caused this. You only have to go to the UDIA report, which simply says that housing affordability in the ACT has

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