26 October 2022

Federal Budget: New National Security Office Precinct to be built in Barton, and more

| Ian Bushnell
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Treasurer Jim Chalmers

Treasurer Jim Chalmers: His first Budget announces a new national Housing Accord to build a million homes. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra will gain a new National Security Office Precinct in Barton that will be home to about 5000 staff across a number of agencies.

The Federal Budget papers say it will provide a “permanent solution to the critical accommodation and capability requirements of several national security and other Commonwealth agencies”, including the Office of National Intelligence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The project has apparently been in the works since 2020 when detailed business cases, planning, design and early market testing commenced.

But the cost of the new precinct has not been revealed due to commercial and national security sensitivities.

The project includes new Commonwealth Government buildings that will accommodate around 5000 staff, new retail and hospitality amenities, and new structured car parking in the Parliamentary Triangle.

It will create thousands of jobs during the five-year construction period starting next year.

The first stage of the precinct development will be a multi-level car park to be constructed adjacent to the John Gorton Building to support visitor and worker amenities in the Parliamentary Triangle.

READ ALSO Plans lodged for another A-grade office block in Barton

Canberra will also benefit from the Budget’s centrepiece National Housing Accord between governments, investors and industry which aims to build a million homes over five years from 2024.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the Budget would kickstart the Accord with $350 million to build 10,000 affordable homes on top of existing commitments.

“This will be delivered through an ongoing funding stream to help cover the gap between market rents and subsidised rents – making more projects commercially viable,” he said.

“State and territory governments will build on our commitment with up to 10,000 new homes as well – that’s up to 20,000 new affordable homes in total.”

Mr Chalmers said the State and territory governments, along with local governments, would unlock supply by freeing up land release and zoning policies.

He is banking on institutional investors, including superannuation funds, to work with the government to find the money for more investment in new housing.

Light rail

The Budget allocates an extra $85.9 million to Light Rail Stage 2A extension to Commonwealth Park. Photo: Region.

The new homes will have high energy efficiency ratings and their construction will involve training more apprentices under an extended Skills Guarantee.

The Albanese Government had already committed to building 30,000 new social and affordable homes in its first five years through the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund.

The National Housing Infrastructure Facility will also support building an additional 5500 new homes.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and ACT Housing Minister Yvette Berry said the ACT would seek to exceed its per capita share of those one million homes.

It had agreed to work collaboratively with the Federal Government and financial institutions to find innovative ways to pay for new social and affordable housing projects.

They said the ACT Government’s Build to Rent Prospectus released in August aligned with these broader objectives.

Improvements to zoning, planning and land release would be delivered in the ACT through the Planning System Review and Reform Project.

“We look forward to announcing further details on the implementation plan for the ACT in the coming months,” they said.

READ ALSO Home Truths: Realities of the housing market in a public service town

Mr Barr said the federal initiative would support the ACT’s own measures to boost housing affordability.

“There is still more to be done and we are actively exploring additional new policy directions with funding also allocated in the last Budget to improve housing affordability for low-to-medium income Canberrans,” he said.

“This includes affordable home purchase schemes, build-to-rent projects with affordable components, shared equity schemes, demonstration housing projects, opportunities to enhance community housing, and working with the Commonwealth on the National Rental Affordability Scheme.”

There is also an extra $85.9 million for extending Light Rail Stage 2A to Commonwealth Park, on top of the $132.5 million from the Morrison Government, taking the Commonwealth’s contribution to the project to $218.4 million.

Previously announced funding includes:

  • $10 million for the Youth Foyer at the Woden CIT campus
  • $5 million towards the Garden City Cycle Route
  • $5 million for Gorman House Art Centre upgrades.

There is also the promised $15 million to reopen and improve the AIS Arena.

Mr Barr said he looked forward to more talks with the Commonwealth on further renewal of the AIS precinct.

Other projects funded in the ACT include $38.5 million for Scrivener Dam Upgrades, Weston Creek Tennis Club upgrades, funds to help the University of Canberra develop their Sport’s Hub Precinct and three Community Batteries located in Casey, Dickson and Fadden.

Two NSW transport projects will also benefit the Canberra region, with $65 million to construct Dunns Creek Road between Googong and Canberra and $17.4 million to upgrade the road from the Brindabella Valley to the ACT.

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When will the elephant in the room be addressed? The NDIS is not a sustainable government program and needs to be scaled back significantly. I can’t think of any other country where having a disability is an advantage. Basic Medicare is enough!

Could probably fund it by getting rid of negative gearing benefits. Governments make choices.

Capital Retro10:16 am 27 Oct 22

When I moved to Canberra 40 years ago several people told me that if I wanted to become a millionaire the way to do it was to become a Defence contractor.

Today, the way to do it is to become an NDIS contractor. From what I have seen the people who are getting the most benefits are the ones that could easily self-fund their needs.

The whole process needs to be means tested and all work needs to be audited.

@Heaves, except that policy is there to prop up the supply of rental properties which based on the low vacancy rates in Canberra is a service critically needed by society. NDIS is a straight subsidy and not productive or revenue generating in any way. Imagine a whole economy built on aged care and disability services. Where is the productivity coming from? The working age able bodied individuals are just servicing the infirm who are sitting around not generating any output of their own and living off government handouts.

It’s madness that anyone would be pointing the finger at the segment of society that pays the most tax on account of their greatest contribution to the economy. All the while when anyone can claim they have “long COVID” and live off government handouts for the rest of their life. That is the true definition of rent-seeking.

Sam Oak,
Except that negative gearing only serves to make property more expensive through incentivising investors making it harder for would be owner occupiers to buy their own home.

It does the exact opposite of what you claim.

Absolute tosh chewy, home owners are not looking for the same types of dwellings as investors. Rentals are typically apartments, townhouses or free standing houses several years old. Home owners want newly built detached dwellings with at least 3 bedrooms and land in newer suburbs such as Molonglo Valley and Gunghalin. There is little competition amongst different segments of the market.

Yes, I agree your comments are absolute tosh Sam.

Although thanks for freely admitting that investors typically buy existing properties that otherwise would be purchased by renters looking to get into the market.

Investors thus add very little to the available housing stock and instead push up prices making home ownership even more difficult.

Chewy you have no idea what you are talking about. International students don’t need to own property in Australia. It is completely necessary to have rental supply in the market!

A disability is a disadvantage, money isn’t going to get your sight/leg etc back.
Have a look at the information here: https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/disability

Hmm, can you point out where anyone said that we don’t need rental supply in the market?

Nah, didn’t think so.

If you weren’t so narrowly focused on your own self interest, you’d be able to recognise there’s a massive amount of room between actively subsidising and incentivising investors through favourable taxation policies like we have now and having no investors at all.

Home ownership rates have dived in Australia in the last couple of decades and it isn’t because more people want to rent, it’s because they’ve been increasingly priced out of the market by people like yourself bidding up prices.

If you took away the incentives you currently exploit, people would still invest in property, there just wouldn’t be as many, because more renters would be able to afford to buy.

Spmm I pay life insurance and TPP premiums specifically to insure my family and I from the worst case scenario. The risk is born by the individual and not society. Medicare and the public health system is there if you don’t have private health insurance because you aren’t earning enough (I.e. not currently contributing to the economy). We need to stop the rort of people being entitled to the NDIS for the most innocuous of conditions such as “long COVID”, obesity, drug addictions that are somehow considered just as disabled as a war veteran amputee! There is no Medicare levy for the NDIS it is completely unfunded!

Righty'o'then11:06 am 10 May 23

Then who funds most of the rentals?

350million to make 10,000 homes. Thats 35k per house. You saw corners cut in the insulation scandal; Labor wants to scandal the whole house.

You did read the part about it being an attempt at an “accord” to build more homes with the funds being available to “kick start” the initiative with other private sector investment yes?

But if you wanted to go off on a tangent, you should have just claimed the $350mill was going to pay for the entire 1000000 homes.

That’s $350 a house, what are they going to be made of? Sticks?

HiddenDragon7:39 pm 26 Oct 22

“Mr Chalmers said the State and territory governments, along with local governments, would unlock supply by freeing up land release and zoning policies.”

Thus (the zoning policy bit) greatly increasing the odds that Terri Butler won’t be the last ALP candidate to get dislodged by a Green in a gentrified electorate – well done, Jimbo!

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