Page 3925 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 15 Sept 2009

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First Home Owner Grant Amendment Bill 2009 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 20 August 2009, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (10.54): The opposition will be supporting this bill, and I thank the Treasurer for arranging a briefing at short notice so that we could discuss this at the last sitting. Unfortunately, we did not quite get there; as events transpired, it was not possible to debate the bill. The opposition acknowledge the short time that the ACT government has had to prepare this bill following the announcement from the federal government. We also acknowledge that it was not possible to bring this bill into the Assembly before the August sittings.

Most people will be aware that the extension for the first home owner grants at their full value expires at the end of September. Essentially, therefore, this is a very straightforward matter following the extension to these grants announced by the federal government some weeks ago. The two boost grants have been extended at their full value to 30 September 2009. The boost grants will then reduce by 50 per cent for the next three months and will cut out altogether after 31 December 2009.

The only issue on which I would like to make comment concerns the retrospective provisions in this bill. It is evident that the Assembly is debating this bill nearly three months after the date from which the federal government’s program was extended. This bill is dealing in part therefore with decisions that have been made since 30 June 2009. The ACT government has been able to make decisions to administer the extension to the program under regulations that have been made prior to 30 June 2009. This bill simply replicates these matters and incorporates them into the main act. To that extent, therefore, the bill is effectively validating decisions that have been made under appropriate regulatory powers. As I said, the opposition will be supporting this bill.

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (10.55): The ACT Greens will be supporting these amendments to the First Home Owner Grant Act 2000. The amendments provide the statutory basis for the ACT government to vary the first home owner boost, a commonwealth government scheme managed by the ACT government, which was introduced in October 2008 as one way of stimulating the housing sector and the economy in general to counter the global financial crisis.

The first home owner boost of an additional $7,000 for existing homes and $14,000 for new homes on top of the existing $7,000 in the first home owners scheme which was due to cease on 30 June 2009 has been extended to 30 September 2009. This extension is welcome and no doubt has contributed through increased duties to the turnaround in the state of the ACT budget, which the Chief Minister spoke of on 14 August. The boosted first home owner grant and other property sales have increased ACT revenue by some $13 million over the past three months.

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