Page 1383 - Week 04 - Thursday, 30 March 2017
federal Treasurer’s recent enthusiasm for addressing the challenge of affordable housing.
State and territory housing and homelessness ministers have been calling for funding for some time. The ACT government has engaged in conversations with other jurisdictions, particularly through a working group, on how we can work together. The national response, though, needs to clearly articulate the common challenges facing all jurisdictions, including the ACT. We need to identify the programs and strategies that are already working in different jurisdictions and, importantly, understand those factors that distinguish jurisdictions and may require the development of ideas such as those the federal Treasurer has been speaking about recently.
As you may recall, the ACT government made submissions to the commonwealth Affordable Housing Working Group last year. The government undertook to develop this submission in response to a resolution of the Assembly of 17 February 2016. Our submission highlighted the ACT government’s extensive program of work to improve the supply of affordable housing and the emphasis on the importance and effectiveness of our social housing system in comparison to other jurisdictions. The submission also stressed the need for a clear and consistent commonwealth response, particularly for its policies on affordability and funding intentions for housing and homelessness services, rather than announcing national changes through the media.
On the commonwealth government’s role in this place, considerable funding is provided in partnership with states and territories. If that funding is cut, that will leave a huge hole in our ability to provide affordable housing and housing services for people in our community. In advocating for a national response, we know that the prospects of achieving effective reform are better through coordinated, collaborative action rather than a national change through the media. I again welcome the prominence of this issue and the national conversation that is occurring at present.
MR PETTERSSON (Yerrabi) (4.30): We are facing a housing affordability crisis in this country. The current housing trends mean that the Australian dream of owning your own home has become a fantasy rather than a reality for many Australians. Australian housing is some of the most expensive in the world, with Sydney house prices second only to Hong Kong. Young people, single parents, low income earners and now middle income earners are in danger of being locked out of the housing market in capital cities. This is further widening the gap between the rich and the poor in Australia, which is currently at a 75-year high. The crisis in affordability is an incredibly important issue for government at all levels, territory, state and federal. In the ACT my Labor colleagues and I are committed to addressing this issue.
Our government has addressed the crisis head-on and significant progress has been made, particularly over the past six years. So what is the extent of this problem? The 2017 annual demographic international housing affordability survey found Australian housing to be severely unaffordable. Over the past 20 years the average house price in Sydney has increased five-fold, from roughly $230,000 in 1997 to almost $1.2 million today. In Melbourne, over the same time period, housing costs have increased six