On The Campaign Trail today, the Liberals’ extend a $100 million line of credit for 1,200 more community houses, Labor pledges $15 million to remove hazardous materials from schools and the Greens look to ban all outdoor corporate advertising.
- Labor matches Liberal $15 million school fund
- Greens argue a healthy environment is a human right
- Outdoor corporate advertising ban
- Business and investment portfolio split under re-elected Labor Government
- Canberra Progressives promise more professional artists in ACT schools
- Simplified penalties
At least 1,200 more affordable houses will be built in Canberra over the next four years if a Liberal government takes power in October.
Instead of constructing the houses itself, a Liberal government will instead offer a $100 million line of credit, interest-free, to community housing providers to build the properties.
The 1,200 houses will be in addition to the 260 already announced by the government, Shadow Housing Minister Mark Parton confirmed.
He said the new houses will be spread across a variety of suburbs – salt and peppered – instead of being grouped together.
“In a lot of cases we are going to have to get creative to do this, but I do not think the current government has been creative enough,” he said.
“The magnitude of this problem is so big that there has to be an enormous will to create the capital, create the land and move forward and do this.”
Mr Parton said more needed to be done to involve the community housing sector to a greater degree as they are more cost-efficient and offer better services to tenants.
“We have costed various rent supplementation but I will refer to one costing suggesting we can deliver 400 homes to the market. The cost of that to the Territory over the [four-year] term would be $12.5 million. To deliver 400 properties in the way the government is suggesting would cost half a billion,” he said.
Although the ACT has the most government-owned public housing per capita, it also has one of the lowest levels of community housing per capita, he said.
An additional 60 government-owned public housing properties will also be built and 1,000 more upgraded under the plan.
Opposition Leader Alistair Coe also promised to cap house and land packages to reduce housing costs for people on lower incomes.
Labor matches Liberal $15 million school fund
Labor will establish a $15 million fund to expedite the removal of hazardous materials in ACT schools after a fourth primary school was found to contain above-threshold levels of lead from paint.
The $15 million matches the Canberra Liberals’ four-year school maintenance fund which will target problems identified under an audit that would be commissioned by a Liberal government.
An independent inquiry would also be launched into the handling of lead paint remediation work at Canberra public schools if the Liberals take office.
The ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Association (CPCA) also called on candidates to remember the mental and physical health of students.
“Within our schools in recent years, we have seen more school psychologists employed, but unfortunately, it just isn’t enough. Waitlists are too long,” Council spokesperson Alison Elliott said.
“Candidates need to commit to one full-time school psychologist, social worker, counsellor or youth worker in every public school, or a combination equivalent to a full-time position.
“We are also calling for family liaison officers to be employed in schools where the need is great.”
Greens argue a healthy environment is a human right
The ACT Greens have gone further than the $15 million pledge by the two major parties, promising to enshrine the “right to a healthy environment” in the ACT’s Human Rights Act.
This would create the legal right of Canberrans to enjoy a clean, healthy environment, including schools, environment spokesperson Jo Clay said.
“Children, as well as teaching staff in schools and early childhood education centres, have the right to work and play without damaging hazardous and toxic materials and chemicals in their immediate environments,” she said.
Outdoor corporate advertising ban
The Greens are pushing to ban outdoor corporate advertising in Canberra if they continue to hold the balance of power after the upcoming election.
The Greens’ vision for an ad-free city will ban roadside electoral advertising, introduce offences for roadside ads on illegally parked or idling cars, and remove any illegal billboards.
Ads inside and outside buses will be rolled back, as will ads at bus stops. The current Adshel contract, signed in 2006, which gives the company advertising rights in exchange for managing, maintaining and cleaning bus shelters, will also end. The contract is set to expire in 2022.
Public interest communication, such as COVID-safe signage, the promotion of community events and the ‘rainbow bus’ will still be permitted under the changes.
Business and investment portfolio split under re-elected Labor government
The Canberra Liberals have criticised Labor’s proposal to split the business and regulatory service portfolios, saying creating a new title will not change anything.
The current portfolio rests with Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay, but will presumably be held by two separate minister’s if split.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr made the call to split the portfolio just days after Singapore Airlines announced it would permanently withdraw flights between Canberra and Singapore at the start of the week.
The withdrawal prompted ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia Adina Cirson to call for “a single Business Minister devoted full-time to the business of promoting business in the ACT”.
The Canberra Business Chamber welcomed the announcement after calling for a dedicated business minister in its budget wishlist back in October 2019.
Canberra Progressives promise more professional artists in ACT schools
Grants of up to $10,000 to bring professional artists into Canberra schools for 20 days will be brought in if the Canberra Progressives gain enough seats in October.
The program will support between 50 and 150 artists and schools every year, according to the policy.
ACT artists will be embedded in the classes of primary school children and up to Year 10. All schools will be able to apply annually for the program.
The Belco Party has promised to reduce the late payment interest rate from 8.1 per cent to no greater than half a per cent higher than the RBA cash rate.
Every ACT vehicle will also get one free trip to the tip each month and each household will be able to register two pets for free.
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