5 November 2023

Liberals' motion to 'urgently' release more land for housing defeated in Assembly

| Lizzie Waymouth
Join the conversation
Peter Cain MLA.

“For younger Canberrans, the dreams of purchasing a home have never been less achievable,” Peter Cain told the Assembly. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

A motion to urgently increase the ACT’s supply and diversity of housing was voted down in the Assembly, with Labor and the Greens arguing that demand is being adequately met and that we should instead focus on building within the existing urban footprint.

Shadow Minister for Planning and Land Management Peter Cain moved the motion on Thursday (2 November) calling on the ACT Government to commit to investigating new sites for development and set ambitious and realistic targets for land release.

Mr Cain argued that the decline in homeownership was largely due to a lack of housing supply.

“The main driver of the overwhelming lack of affordability and choice we are experiencing in the ACT housing market is lack of supply,” he said.

“For younger Canberrans, the dreams of purchasing a home have never been less achievable.

“Our housing market is in a crisis and residents of the ACT are the worst affected across the nation.”

Mr Cain said the current Indicative Land Release Program (ILRP) for 2023-24 commits to the release of 1883 new residential dwellings, but the rate of population growth projected by the ACT Budget suggests Canberra’s population will grow by about 9000 people a year.

Mr Cain also accused the Labor-Greens Government of “deliberately gouging prospective buyers” in a cost-of-living crisis by overvaluing land to make a profit.

“The Chief Minister and Planning Minister are treating the release of land as a means to raise revenue,” he said.

READ ALSO ASIC bars Canberra real estate agent and property developer from running companies for two years

Planning Minister Mick Gentleman denied these claims and said it would be “completely improper” for the government to raise revenue by selling land.

“We have a lawful obligation to sell land at its value,” he said.

“[Mr Cain] said the government is land-banking to make a profit … we don’t make profits in government.”

Minister Gentleman said Mr Cain was wrong to suggest there was a large amount of land in the ACT waiting to be built on.

“While some might see a lot of undeveloped land as they drive around Canberra and consider that this must mean there is an abundance of greenfield land available, it’s simply not the case,” he said.

“A lot of the land that is not developed has environmental values or other attributes that might make it unsuitable for development.”

Mr Gentleman noted the ACT Government was focused on providing at least 70 per cent of its new housing within the existing urban footprint, with the support of the private sector.

“Mr Cain’s motion ignores the fact that the private sector will continue to advance the supply of new dwellings across the ACT, a large proportion of these dwellings are multi-unit properties located within the existing urban footprint,” he said.

He said privately owned land contributes around 1000 to 1500 new dwellings per year to the existing housing stock, in addition to the dwellings set out in the ILRP.

“This means private landowners and the development industry, who hold a lot of the land within the existing urban footprint, will also be contributing to delivering more housing.”

Mr Gentleman said he believed demand was being met.

“With respect to meeting demand, I believe we’re seeing what is on the ILRP combined with the private sector delivery is meeting demand and choice and providing a range of housing typologies in a range of locations,” he said.

READ ALSO New $150 million office development at Constitution Place precinct

ACT Greens planning spokesperson Jo Clay acknowledged that Canberra needs to grow, but that this needs to be within the existing boundaries rather than building further and further outside the city.

“Cities need to grow, we need more density,” she said.

“We think it’s time that Canberra just draws city limits, this is what most mature cities have done. We’ll have to do it sooner or later. It is time to do it now.”

She said the Liberals’ urban sprawl approach created aworse outcomes for people and for the planet.

“We do hear a really strong push from our colleagues in the Canberra Liberals that this is the only way Canberra can develop. I’m really really sorry that they cannot see another path forward, we certainly can in the Greens.

“We need to make better use of our existing resources and the infrastructure that we have, and we need to make sure that it is affordable and available to everyone.”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Land-banking , drip feeding, maximising revenue, maintaining the existing urban footprint. Whichever term you use to apply the Govt actions, the impact is the same in terms of limiting the supply of of land to the market and increasing the cost per square metre of the land. ACT Govt may cry crocodile tears about affordability but will not actually increase the supply of land or build better infrastructure in outer suburbs, especially not in Tuggers.

“Mr Gentleman noted the ACT Government was focused on providing at least 70 per cent of its new housing within the existing urban footprint, with the support of the private sector.”

“Cities need to grow, we need more density,”

“She said the Liberals’ urban sprawl approach created worse outcomes for people and for the planet.”

So ideology. They admit they are witholding further land release because they are attempting to pack us in like sardines rather than make further space available.

They KNOW that this is not what people want. they don’t care. Idiots.

devils_advocate11:58 am 07 Nov 23

Urban infill will be unaffordable at best, and unfeasible at worst, due to the taxes, charges and fees – including but not limited to Lease Variation Charges – that have been rapidly and exorbitantly escalated by Barr.

That photo up the top says it all about Peter Cain MLA! His bizarre and desperate behaviour to be re-elected has raised a number of eyebrows both within and outside the Assembly.

Beware the snarling man who gives gifts of sugar!

The Greens are among the wealthiest people in Canberra. They live in expensive areas that won’t be affected by poor infill design. Any infill in their areas will be posh little jobs designed by architects. So they’re largely immune from the effects of their high-handed pronouncements that people in the low income areas should be crowded in, and should just suck it up for “the good of the planet”. Yes right, but the Greens won’t be doing any of the sucking it up. They’re above all that. It’s really just class politics, with the Greens on top.

The term dog box is now a reality

There is heaps of land around the ACT. However they expect you to downsize your block so you pay the same for half the size. If you wanted to live in a shoe box apartment you would live in Sydney or Melbourne. Not once in the last 20 years have they drawn city limits as they push to extend Belconnen out past the ACT border.

The real issue is they want to control where the land value is, because they don’t want you to have it.

GrumpyGrandpa8:45 pm 05 Nov 23

If we can’t have more land to build houses with backyards for families, can we at least have more 3-bedroom apartments and townhouses (without stairs)?

75 square metre 2-bedroom properties and 1-bedroom properties just don’t cut it.

Martin Keast4:48 pm 05 Nov 23

It is simple economics – increase the supply to meet the demand, then the price will drop. The ACT government is limiting release in order to profit on land sales. They could easily release the land faster, reduce the compliance overhead for approvals, but no, they sit on land, they have the slowest and most expensive approvals processes, and claim “nothing to see here”.

If the Bill was passed, it would have meant more work for the Minister. Too much paperwork means less leisure time

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.