Page 3633 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013

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reason or another to accommodate those on the waiting list, or else we would need a significant increase in the number of public housing properties.

However, with the housing affordability issue we have in the ACT, this is not realistic. There is no step between current public housing and the private Canberra rental market. This is very important. We need to give people a hand up, not keep them reliant on handouts.

At one end you have people in public housing who are at the upper end of the scale but cannot afford to make the jump to the private market. Then you have residents at the other end who desperately need the assistance of public housing and are on the ever-increasing waiting list, so may tip over into homelessness. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. That means we need to pay more attention than ever to finding policies to improve the situation in our community.

It is generally accepted that the pressure on the public housing system is a direct consequence of issues associated with private rental affordability in Canberra. Last year there were 94 eviction notices issued for households earning more than $80,000 per annum and living in public housing. Of these, 62 either bought their homes or vacated the premises. The problem for the people remaining is that they are competing with many other potential tenants every single time they apply for a private rental property, and a lot of them simply cannot afford to buy. It is also well recognised that landlords and real estate agents, from a risk management perspective, will choose a potentially higher paid public sector worker over those who have just come out of public housing and are in sectors which may not be stable or well paid.

With the average private rental price in Canberra remaining at $430 a week, there is no chance for low income households to get a look in. Amongst all of this, we have increasing rates, as Mr Hanson has just reiterated, which will directly put pressure on the cost of housing by potentially thousands of dollars each year. When landlords are charged increased rates, they pass this on to tenants through increased rents. Landlords are not in the business of absorbing tax increases imposed by the government; they simply pass them on to the tenant.

The approach to the issue of housing affordability needs to be widespread, considered and consistent. It needs to include public policy, private investment, philanthropic and community groups and approach it at all levels. It needs to, as some speakers have already said today, incorporate land release policy, lease variation charges, urban infill, community housing, first home owner schemes and many other factors. A lack of affordable housing has its flipside in keeping people in homelessness services, as identified in the Auditor-General’s report on the national partnership agreement on homelessness from June this year.

I do believe that all of us in this place genuinely wish to increase the supply of affordable housing and reduce and end homelessness. Access to affordable housing in the ACT is vital for our community, especially for younger people, and we cannot afford to ignore this issue. It is something that we will continue to focus on as an important issue for all Canberrans.

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