Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 836 ..
The summit will be another important forum in which we can ask the sector, the industry and the wider community to consider the effectiveness of new initiatives such as these and many other issues around planning reform, the community housing sector, public housing and the homelessness sector.
Bringing together a broad range of industry and community stakeholders will provide another useful platform to consider a new strategy, one that builds on our previous efforts in engaging our community on these questions, efforts which have contributed to the many successes of the affordable housing action plan that we can all be proud of. This summit will further guide us on a path to providing better housing outcomes for those on the lowest incomes.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.19): Many people in the ACT are concerned about housing affordability and also the cost of housing, and there is a distinct difference. This government has a tendency to focus on housing affordability rather than the cost of housing which is, in effect, taking for granted the relatively high mean income or median income in the ACT. But for the many thousands of Canberrans on low incomes, housing affordability is particularly damaging, as is the cost of housing. So it is important that we get our terminology right. If we frequently focus on housing affordability then we will perhaps forget about the significant rises that have taken place in the cost of properties in the ACT. Canberra is often seen as an expensive place to live, and this has serious consequences for households and businesses, whether they are businesses already here or businesses that may well set up here.
The reasons for the high cost of housing in the ACT are varied and complex. Some of these reasons, such as interest rates, are beyond the powers of the ACT government. However, others, such as land supply, are firmly within the realm of the ACT government. Not only that, especially with regard to land supply, the ACT government is in a unique position in this country whereby it controls the treasury levers as well as the rates levers as well as all the land supply levers due to the fact of the ACT government, in effect, assuming an amalgamation of local council and state responsibilities.
This motion moved by Ms Le Couteur recognises the need to respond to the problem of housing issues and housing affordability by thinking about the reasons for it and a range of responses to it. For this reason I am happy to support the motion and, indeed, Ms Berry’s amendment, but I will also be adding an additional clause to it through an amendment, if it is acceptable to the Assembly.
In addressing housing affordability in general and the particular question of a land tax on vacant properties we need to have a solid body of evidence. It is simply not good enough to go on whims or anecdotal evidence. We have to make sure that there is rigour in this process, and that is why I think Ms Le Couteur’s motion is worthy of our support.
Such rigour includes a detailed comparison of the current tax treatment of vacant properties in the ACT and in Victoria. I also think it would be worthwhile to peruse