Page 4042 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 23 October 2018

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The ruling on Mr Parton’s bill—a bill which seeks to provide a solution to the housing affordability problem that so many renters in Canberra are facing—seems to be based purely on an interpretation of standing orders. It is worth noting that the interpretation of these standing orders is also currently before the admin and procedure committee for inquiry, looking at how we manage and interpret this going forward.

There is a question for us, in that we can make material changes tomorrow to seek to bring about a change to introduce more affordable rental accommodation in the territory to help out struggling Canberra families. A motion that passed this Assembly indicated intent to do this earlier in the year. It seems that there has been a commitment to support language in moves towards this space. But when a bill is brought forward to implement the changes required to reduce the cost of rental properties in the ACT we see a blockage being brought about.

This is purely an interpretation of standing orders. Frequently standing orders in this place are suspended to allow the passage of bills, motions or discussions that suit the will of the Assembly. This is an opportunity today for the Labor government and the Greens crossbench to show their support, to actually make a change and provide the opportunity for more affordable, more accessible rental accommodation in Canberra by supporting the suspension of standing orders and the debate of this bill tomorrow.

What the government seemingly has failed to recognise over many, many years is that consistently increasing taxes fails to bring about cost efficiencies anywhere. They have routinely increased property taxes in this town. The impact of that has been driving up the cost of housing affordability. Rents are dearer. Property purchases are dearer. Rates are dearer.

Here is an opportunity, Madam Speaker, for the Assembly to bring about legislative change that seeks to address this. It opens the door to property owners, property investors in the ACT, to enter into a scheme that provides genuine, affordable properties for the struggling families in Canberra. This suspension of standing orders is first and foremost a decision on whether or not there is an intent in this place to bring about meaningful change to the affordable housing crisis that faces so many territorians here in Canberra.

From time to time private members’ bills have passed this place that have had a financial implication. We regularly see it. It is fair to say that just about every bill that comes through this place from a private member has a financial implication in it in some way, form or shape. The question here is not an interpretation of standing orders but whether or not there is a commitment to reducing housing unaffordability in the ACT.

Do we want to continue the trajectory that we are following, to match Sydney and Melbourne as one of the most unaffordable cities to live in? Or do we want to take a stand, make a difference and see that Canberra families doing it tough have an alternative—a go-between between social housing and what is ever increasingly an unaffordable private housing sector?

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