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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2354 ..

We looked at trees, both in their own right and from a climate change point of view. We recommended that school playgrounds should have tree cover to provide shade and allow natural play spaces and that the ACT government should set a strong tree canopy target to ensure that all developments and redevelopments are climate wise and adapted to a warmer, drier climate.

We looked at waste, which is another of the greenhouse issues. We all recommended that the ACT government should continue to identify and implement ways that waste generation in the ACT can be reduced. We made two specific recommendations about organic waste, which is very important from a greenhouse point of view, not only because of the potential production of methane gas but also because of the need to keep soil fertility, which means feeding our organic waste back into our soil and our agriculture.

Affordable housing was another area that the committee concentrated on. Recommendation 129 asked the ACT government to provide information about how dwelling sites allocated to community housing providers are allocated. There is a broader issue, and that is the capacity of the community housing sector. Hopefully, the long-awaited affordable housing strategy will provide some help for that.

Remarks from ACT government officials indicate that the number of dwelling sites earmarked for community housing in this year’s land release program, only 20, reflects the capacity of the sector. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the community housing sector has only grown modestly in recent years, largely because the policies and programs that helped to grow it in the first place have dried up. Community housing providers are to some extent the creatures of public policy. They are an efficient vehicle for providing low cost housing, but the sector grows and shrinks according to the support, or otherwise, of governments.

The second reason for the sector’s modest growth in the ACT is that, as far as we can tell, the ACT government, while it does allocate some land to community housing providers, sells that land to them at the highest price the government can raise for it. It is sad to note that of the 34 dwelling sites earmarked for community housing providers in last year’s land release, none have yet been made available to the sector.

We are very pleased with recommendation 130, that the government should adjust its land release program so that it can support the motion the Assembly passed last year to maintain the ACT-wide stock of social housing at the current level of 7.1 per cent. There are a number of ways that this could be done—which I do not have time to go into right now—but land release is part of it. Recommendation 131 goes to this. It says:

The Committee recommends that the ACT Government provides sufficient capacity to Housing ACT to take on new land opportunities and have the capital to develop on that land.

As the Suburban Land Authority said in evidence:

… we have been very much guided by the capacity of our Housing ACT colleagues to take on new land opportunities and have the capital to develop on that land.

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