Page 3740 - Week 10 - Wednesday, 19 September 2018

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The land tax concession issue was considered to be so significant that, as Ms Le Couteur pointed out, it had been enshrined in a previous Greens–Labor parliamentary agreement, so it must have been pretty important. Ms Le Couteur indicated that, unfortunately, this aspect of their agreement was not pursued. Ms Le Couteur also explained to this Assembly that the Liberals had taken some interest in this proposal and she agreed that it was an entirely reasonable idea.

In speaking to the land tax proposal, Ms Le Couteur explained that her motion involved providing an exemption from land tax for residential property investors who rent their property to low and moderate income households. Property owners would receive a discounted market rent through not-for-profit community housing providers. Under the Land Tax Act 2004, community housing providers are exempted from this tax for housing properties that they rent out as affordable housing.

Ms Le Couteur went on to highlight the merits of using community housing providers. The positives included their not-for-profit operating principle, their charitable purpose, their strong regulatory oversight and their systems for selecting appropriate and eligible tenants, which is probably the most important thing. They work in this space every day, and ultimately they would love to be able to deliver more properties to the market. They have the required social mission and purpose.

On the day of that motion, the housing minister circulated amendments to Ms Le Couteur’s motion which we think changed it significantly, calling on the government pretty much to sit back and do nothing while further investigations and reports were done. I was gobsmacked. I think that the time for talking on this is over. I think we should just do it. We can do something positive and practical in this chamber to mitigate the plight for at least some Canberrans living under rental stress. It requires no anguish or complex research and it will not send the government broke.

The bill I have presented here is conceptually quite simple. I will brush over some of the core elements, noting that we have a detailed explanatory statement on it. Similar to the Greens motion, it involves the inclusion of an additional exemption provision in the Land Tax Act 2004. As stated in the bill, a provision is created to include a new section 13A to allow property owners to enter into an agreement with a registered community housing provider to rent out their properties at an affordable rental. Under this proposed arrangement, owners are exempted from land tax obligations while ever the property is rented for affordable housing purposes by that community provider.

The bill also outlines the requirements under which exemption is facilitated and managed. These include prescribing when the exemption arrangement comes into effect and the circumstances under which an exemption would lapse. The bill also sets out things like the timing for this Assembly to review the operation of section 13A after the second year of its operation has elapsed.

In conclusion, the principle underlying this bill is compassion—compassion for those in need. The legislative technicality is straightforward. It entices the market without coercing it and, most importantly, it helps lift the rental stress that many Canberrans are currently suffering. What is proposed here today is nothing more or less than what

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