Page 3245 - Week 08 - Tuesday, 16 August 2011

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on-year growth in both the ACT and Australia remains negative. The rate of decline has slowed noticeably in the last six months. Year-on-year to June 2011, housing finance commitments contracted by 2.8 per cent in the ACT. But I do note that this was the lowest decrease of all states and territories. Nationally, the figure decreased by 10.5 per cent.

The number of first home buyer commitments in the territory increased in June 2011 but does remain lower than the peak levels achieved in mid-2009. Higher interest rates, as well as the impact of reduced grants to first homebuyers, are continuing to impact on the number of housing finance commitments across the country. However, here in the ACT the level remains healthy.

The number of non-first homebuyer commitments remains above its five-year average level and above the level a year ago. In June of this year, the trend number of housing finance commitments in the ACT increased for the second consecutive month. The current level remains above the five-year monthly average as well as above the levels of a year ago.

Another measure of housing affordability is the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s housing affordability index. Their March quarter report finds that the ACT is the most affordable jurisdiction in which to own or rent a property.

MR HARGREAVES: Supplementary, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Thanks very much, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, I am interested in what community views the minister is aware of in relation to government programs outlined in his earlier answer.

MR BARR: I am aware of a range of community views in relation to the government’s efforts to make housing more affordable. Those in the building industry support the government’s aim in this area. They support our land release strategy. They support this year’s budget, in which we are providing $111 million over four years to increase the supply of housing in the territory. They understand the importance of the thousands of jobs associated with our accelerated land release program. The apprentices who are getting their qualifications on building sites released under our strategy are also supportive. Thousands of Canberrans who are now in affordable housing support the government’s efforts.

But there are others who purport to represent the community who are not so supportive—those who talk a lot about the cost of living, who do a lot of talking, but it is hot air. They do not have a policy for affordable housing. That certainly contrasts with the efforts of this government across a range of areas, particularly our approach to a supply-side solution. Rather than using further measures to fuel demand, we have focused on supply-side solutions. The impact of that is being seen throughout the housing market in the ACT.

MS LE COUTEUR: A supplementary, Mr Speaker.

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