Page 4140 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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MS BERRY: Housing affordability is a national challenge, and I know from the discussions with state and territory colleagues that I have had that every jurisdiction is grappling with housing affordability in one way or another. The high costs of housing are creating the demand for public and community housing. Some Canberrans feel this pressure greatly. For example, in the ACT we know more than 52 per cent of households in receipt of commonwealth rent assistance pay more than 30 per cent of their total household income in rent. This compares to a rate of 40.3 per cent nationally.

The need for action in this area is clear, and the ACT government has worked hard to improve housing affordability through a range of measures designed to better manage housing demand and improve housing supply, such as improving the efficiency of land supply, targeting aged and homelessness services, increasing the supply of rental accommodation and committing to 20 per cent affordable dwellings across all new developments.

The government has worked closely with developers and builders in implementing this requirement to ensure that it contributes effectively to building a fair and inclusive community. We also need the commonwealth to be engaged on housing affordability, as the powerful economic levers they hold have a strong influence in cities like ours.

First ministers have discussed reform at recent meetings, and the ACT is certainly willing to play a lead role in reforms which target affordability and reduce homelessness.

MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, what benefits will flow to tenants and housing services as 1,288 housing dwellings are replaced with more modern, efficient, fit-for-purpose homes?

MS BERRY: The 1,288 homes that we are replacing as part of the public housing renewal program will bring great benefits to tenants and housing services in the ACT. These homes will provide modern accommodation that will help us better align our public housing with the needs of tenants now and into the future.

We are spreading the replacement public housing across Canberra with a mix of different types of homes, taking in detached houses, compact homes, townhouses and apartments with some in small groups of up to 30 units. In line with the salt and pepper policy, which has always served Canberra well, we are breaking down concentrations of disadvantage and working to foster communities in which public housing is just like private housing and tenants are equals.

The homes that are being built through this program are being designed for the long term. Six-star energy ratings offer greater comfort and lower utility bills than the outdated buildings that are being replaced. The maintenance liability for the government will also improve over time. The small groups of public housing being delivered through the renewal program will cost much less to run and maintain than the large complexes that were built over 50 years ago.

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