Page 3526 - Week 08 - Thursday, 18 August 2011

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having the capacity to innovate and look at a range of policy options has been important in the totality of the ACT’s response.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Seselja.

MR SESELJA: Minister, do you agree with the former Chief Minister that housing is affordable for first home buyers in the ACT?

MR BARR: Certainly housing is becoming more affordable as a result of the range of initiatives that the government has put in place—a focus, as I have said, on the supply side, on a range of innovative options. It has been particularly interesting to note the very strong take-up of the land rent scheme, for example, in spite of the campaign that has been run against it by the Leader of the Opposition. Fortunately, his capacity to influence public opinion is fairly low. So it is encouraging to see that there has been very strong interest in that program, in the OwnPlace program, in the product that has been offered by Community Housing Canberra, in the shared equity programs and, in fact, in the variety of options that the government has put forward.

But again I stress that this is not something that we face alone. Every Australian jurisdiction is experiencing challenges in providing affordable housing and there is a need for a broad range of policy responses. Importantly, through a range of targeted concessions, the ACT government has sought to assist first home buyers into the market. We have seen, certainly in recent times, strong levels of take-up of properties by first home buyers. That has been very encouraging.

ACT Supreme Court building

MS PORTER: My question is to the Attorney-General, through you, Mr Speaker. Can you please inform the Assembly about the ACT government’s plan in regard to a new ACT Supreme Court?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Porter for the question. I am pleased to advise the Assembly that the government has decided to proceed with forward design work for a new Supreme Court building on the site of the existing Supreme Court building, starting in July this year. We have commenced advertisement for the project consultant team to guide this future stage of work.

This will be a new building for our Supreme Court, but a number of the heritage aspects of the current building will be incorporated into the design for the proposed new building. A proposed method of construction will be recommended during the forward design stage of the works, and this is very much more than simply a refurbishment or a renovation. The business case for the full design and construction work for this project will be considered in the forthcoming budget period, with design work to commence in late 2012.

The proposal by the government will see the preservation of the external heritage aspects of the building on the existing site. The new building will include the levelling of floor heights throughout the complex, resulting in two new levels above ground as well as two new basement levels.

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