Page 5185 - Week 14 - Tuesday, 28 November 2017

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It is an important new string to the bow of remembering the many thousands of Australians who gave their lives for our country and our freedom. I congratulate Chris Latham for his achievement and his award, and I wish him well in his continuing journey of discovery.

Demonstration housing precincts


MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (6.43): I rise to speak about the demonstration housing precincts statement made by Minister Gentleman this morning, noting that it arises from a motion I brought to the Assembly in June. It also, importantly, arises from years of lobbying from the community, the industry and, in particular, the Institute of Architects.

Demonstration precincts are important because they can lead to the testing of innovative design, construction and planning processes; demonstrate to industry that there is a demand for more innovative housing; demonstrate to the community that new forms of housing can work well; and lead to improved industry skill levels and the showcasing of local industry capabilities.

I would like to address five points which will determine whether or not we get all the benefits this process could deliver.

First, one critical barrier to innovation is, unfortunately, our planning system. The ACT’s rules for housing are in desperate need of an overhaul. The rules were designed almost 20 years ago to limit change, but in many areas change is happening anyway as big houses are replacing small ones. We talked earlier about McMansions. Our community has also changed greatly in the past 20 years. We have both more seniors who want and need to downsize and more young people staying in Canberra after they finish their education. A well-run demonstration precinct process can use a hands-on design process to test out new planning approaches. The minister’s decision to link the demonstration housing projects to his housing choices process is interesting, and I am very hopeful that it will work well.

The second is community involvement. Minister Gentleman’s housing choices paper is suggesting that there will be community involvement in the EOI process, and this is a good start. For the demonstration housing to be delivered successfully, the community participation must be successful. The challenge will be getting both a broad and representative community involvement in housing choices overall and getting local community support around selected demonstration sites.

The third is the government’s level of ambition in the EOI process. Getting the best possible impact will require the government to back proposals that will go beyond making a small number of minor changes to the Territory Plan and go beyond slightly better versions of normal practice. The information that we have had to date is promising. For example, it talks about co-housing and long-term rental housing, both of which would be completely new in the ACT, and I think very welcome.

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