17 August 2020

Grants to lure migrants, businesses in Property Council election wishlist

| Ian Bushnell
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Geocon's Grand Central Tower

Geocon’s Grand Central Tower in Woden. The Property Council wants government to drive population growth and have a long-term infrastructure plan, especially along transport corridors. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Cash incentives to lure people and businesses to settle in Canberra were needed to drive Canberra’s population and economic growth, according to the ACT Property Council, which has released a lengthy election wishlist ahead of the 17 October poll.

The council also proposes a boost to rental accommodation through Build to Rent programs, tax and rate relief, and a long-term infrastructure plan.

In its 2020 ACT Election Platform, Five Keys to Unlocking the Nation’s Capital, the council proposes the government offer a $10,000 cash grant to attract new families, retirees and key workers to move from Sydney and Melbourne and the region, coupled with a coordinated marketing campaign to promote Canberra as a place to live, invest and work.

But Chief Minister Andrew Barr has already poured cold water on the proposal, saying the kinds of people who would move to Canberra don’t need the money.

”I’m not sure that buying Canberrans is what we need to be doing at this time,” he said. ”We could far better invest $10,000 by whatever multiple in something that would actually stimulate economic activity in the ACT in a much greater way.”

The council also wants a one-off $25,000 start-up grant to encourage the right businesses to set up in Canberra in the next 12 months, and $5,000 wage subsidy for local businesses that hire employees moving to Canberra in the next 12 months.

It says government should support the growth of Build to Rent properties to attract investors to Canberra, and bring forward a pipeline of quality rental housing, including 50-50 investment with the Commonwealth to deliver 600 new social housing dwellings.

New public housing in Dickson

New public housing in Dickson: the Property Council proposes a range of incentives to boost the stock of affordable homes in Canberra.

The land release program should also be reviewed, more government-private sector joint ventures undertaken and the residential zoning system overhauled to provide more of the ‘missing middle’ housing stock, including Lease Variation Charge remissions to enable it.

Unsurprisingly, the sector wants relief from taxes and charges, with residential and commercial rates capped for three years, a Rates and Taxes Reform Taskforce established, a 12-month moratorium on additional property taxes and charges that impact housing affordability for the next 12 months, a combination of rates and LVC remissions to achieve policy outcomes such as energy efficiency and cheaper housing.

It also says LVC charges levied in a certain geographic area should be spent in that community.

The council believes government should have a 10-year land release and infrastructure program along the city’s transport corridors.

It should also unlock unused land for development in local and group centres such as open spaces, parking areas and former public housing sites through strategic rezonings.

Industrial zones need to be updated to provide certainty for community and industry, as well as to identify possible new locations for residential development, the council says.

Property Council ACT Executive Director Adina Cirson said the next ACT Government needed to show strong leadership and have a clear plan of action to take Canberra through a post-COVID-19 recovery.

“The ACT needs to grow over the next 20 years; it is critical that Government uses the right levers to grow our population as well as provide investment opportunities for a global market looking for new opportunities,” Ms Cirson said.

“We need our government to lead from the front, take the immediate steps to break out of the COVID-19-generated recession, and put Canberra on the path for long-term success.

“Infrastructure will be critical in supporting this growth and clear actions will be needed to ensure a strong pipeline of diverse and affordable housing.”

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HiddenDragon6:47 pm 17 Aug 20

“Chief Minister Andrew Barr has already poured cold water on the proposal, saying the kinds of people who would move to Canberra don’t need the money.”

Probably an overstatement, of sorts, but to the extent that is so, it runs against the argument that stamp duty on residential properties is a major obstacle to housing mobility and thus needs to be replaced by high annual rates.

Capital Retro6:30 pm 17 Aug 20

This is crazy stuff. Why offer $10,000 grants for retirees to move to Canberra when thousands of us are planning to move interstate because we can’t afford to live here anymore?

How about abolishing stamp duty for all retirees still in Canberra who want to downsize?

The ACT needs debt and growth consolidation not more mindless ponzi-type growth. If this means a recession so be it.

Stephen Saunders3:42 pm 17 Aug 20

Correct, Adina. The sooner Australia reverts to mass-migration and congestion-busting, the better for all of us. I for one will be appalled if Adelaide not Canberra gets the first overseas-student shipment.

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