Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Tuesday, 11 August 2015) . . Page.. 2637 ..
MR COE (Ginninderra) (7.47): It is very disappointing to have to rise so quickly; I was looking forward to hearing Mr Doszpot’s contribution. It is a shame that those opposite would be seeking to stifle debate on what should be a very open process whereby everybody can contribute all they need to in order to bring about the best possible governance for what is a $4.5 billion budget.
Madam Speaker, there are several agencies in this area of the budget that I would like to draw to the Assembly’s attention. In particular, I firstly refer to the LDA. The Land Development Agency is responsible for the release of land for development in the territory. This year the indicative residential land release program shows an increase in the number of dwelling sites to be released. This is somewhat unusual but indicative of a government that is desperate to bring in more money.
A closer look at the program shows the increase is only brought about because of the asset recycling initiative—that is, the replacement of public housing properties that the government is selling off. If the blocks from the asset recycling initiative are excluded, the number of blocks has actually decreased from the program released last year. So we are back in the same situation as every year—the government promises a certain number of blocks and then revises the target down. Of course, the government have a perverse incentive to reduce the number of blocks they bring out to the market. Not only do they not have to do the associated infrastructure, but because of limited supply the price goes up. They then get the sale revenue, they then get the stamp duty revenue and then, because it sold for a higher amount, the unimproved land value is higher as well. So they get a higher valuation by way of rates as soon as the block sells. They get a triple whammy, and because of that this government could be seen to be gouging Canberra families when it comes to the release of land in the territory.
The LDA’s statement of intent states that the supply is expected to exceed demand for detached housing in greenﬁeld estates. If this is the case, an inventory of serviced land may be established. This would certainly be a good thing. Housing affordability is seriously compromised when the LDA has no blocks for sale. When the government restricts supply and ensures that the majority of land released is by the government, home ownership is put beyond the reach of so many Canberrans. I hope the government is genuinely interested in making housing more affordable through ensuring an adequate supply of land.
I believe the government needs to complete a review of the types of blocks it releases to the market. I made this suggestion last year, but the government, of course, has not agreed to conducting such a review. I believe a review is important because housing affordability is not only affected by the number of blocks but the types of blocks which are being released as well. If the LDA continues to release lots of small blocks and blocks for apartments, this will not improve the affordability of blocks that are suitable for family homes.
As I have said many times before, the LDA should focus on its core purpose of land release. It is not appropriate to have the government competing with private developers to develop new areas. The government’s continued interference in the development and construction industry is bad for Canberra’s businesses. It makes