Page 974 - Week 03 - Thursday, 28 February 2013

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Education, Training and Youth Affairs—Standing Committee (Seventh Assembly)

Paper and statement by minister

MS GALLAGHER (Molonglo—Chief Minister, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Health and Minister for Higher Education): For the information of members, I present the following paper:

Education, Training and Youth Affairs—Standing Committee (Seventh Assembly)—Report 10—Accommodation needs of tertiary education students in the ACT—Government response.

I seek leave to make a statement.

Leave granted.

MS GALLAGHER: I am pleased to be able to table the government’s response to the standing committee’s report on the accommodation needs of tertiary education students in the ACT. On 23 August 2012 the committee released its report with 10 recommendations. The government has agreed, or agreed in part, to each of the recommendations. Many of the recommendations align well with priorities already identified by the government. In terms of the government’s affordable housing action plan, we are committed to making housing more affordable for all Canberrans, including our student population. The affordable housing action plan has been a key contributor in responding to housing demand, containing house prices and rent increases, and providing a welcome economic boost to the territory.

Phase 3 of the affordable housing action plan released in June 2012 introduces a set of 14 new actions aimed at improving housing affordability in the ACT. The key objectives of the plan are to increase the amount of affordable rentals, improve utilisation of land in established suburbs and expand the mix of affordable properties for sale. These measures will help to cater for the accommodation needs of our students and ease the burden of finding affordable housing in the territory’s private rental market.

The committee recommended that the government continue its policy of encouraging student-specific accommodation projects. The government has provided support for a range of student accommodation projects, including the recent campus 1 developments at the University of Canberra and Lena Karmel Lodge at the ANU. Both of these new spaces for students deliver an affordable accommodation option at a discounted rent of at least 20 per cent below the market rate. This has ensured that studying in Canberra remains an attractive option for current and future students.

In March last year I was pleased to open Weeden Lodge in the refurbished Cameron offices in Belconnen. This development is part of a larger plan to provide 1,000 new dwellings for students in Belconnen. I was also present at the opening of the ANU’s newest student accommodation, Lena Karmel Lodge, which now provides even more affordable accommodation for Canberra’s growing student population. The territory government, working with the commonwealth, is proud to have contributed to these affordable rental units which will also help improve overall rental affordability.

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