Australia: Focus on cost of housing as ACT Legislative Assembly resumes sitting

The ACT government is failing to abide by its own rules created in the fallout of the Land Development Agency scandal in not setting affordable housing targets, Greens crossbencher Caroline Le Couteur has warned. Housing affordability will be a dominant issue when the ACT Legislative Assembly resumes on Tuesday.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has hinted at measures to help first home-buyers in the government’s mid-year budget review, set to be handed down on Tuesday. But the ACT Greens have accused the government of failing to comply with the rules it set down when it shut down the controversial Land Development Agency last year.

Ms Le Couteur said the legislation that established the two replacement agencies, the City Renewal Agency and Suburban Land Authority, requires the government to set targets for a minimum percentage of affordable, community and public housing in new suburbs and areas where the City Renewal Agency or Suburban Land Authority are involved in urban renewal.

Ms Le Couteur said the affordable housing targets should be a “priority” for the City Renewal Authority and the Suburban Land Agency.

“The government is working on an affordable housing strategy, however setting targets for affordable, community, and public housing can be done independently of this process, and should be actioned as a matter of urgency,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“There’s no silver bullet to fix the housing crisis. That said, the ACT government must act to urgently increase the supply of affordable rentals and public and community housing.”

The Canberra Liberals will also up the pressure on the government over its increases to rates.

Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe will table a petition with thousands of signatures, calling on the government to reverse its methodology for calculating ACT strata rates.

Owners of units and apartments experienced huge increases to their rates bill last year, after ACT Treasury began calculating unit rates based on the land value, then dividing that total by the number of units, replacing the previous formula that divided the land value by number of units, then calculated individual rates.


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