The ACT Government has refused to explicitly acknowledge Canberra is facing a housing crisis and has rejected Opposition calls to investigate the impact its own policies are having on the market.
Canberra Liberals MLA Mark Parton this week moved a motion in the Assembly calling for an independent review into what impact government policies have had on rising house prices and rent levels, and asking the Government to declare a housing crisis.
Instead, the Government passed a heavily amended motion acknowledging a housing affordability crisis is unfolding across every OECD country, including Australia, and “the ACT is not immune from this”.
Minister for Housing Yvette Berry substantially watered down Mr Parton’s motion so that rather than an independent review being conducted, the ACT Government will continue to implement its housing strategy.
The amendment states the government will also review and assess any available levers and continue to lobby the Commonwealth Government to take measures to improve housing affordability.
Mr Parton, for his part, blames ACT Government policy for the current state of the property market and referenced a recent Suburban Land Agency ballot for Taylor in which almost 7500 people applied for a chance to secure one of just 115 blocks of land as an example of the lack of supply.
He says issues like high land taxes and residential rates and a lack of land supply, coupled with disincentives for landlords, were pricing aspirational homeowners out of the market.
“These policies have led to a perfect storm when it comes to housing affordability,” he said.
“This is denying a whole generation of Canberrans (the opportunity of) … ever owning their own home.”
Mr Parton also pointed out the rapidly shrinking number of houses for sale in the ACT for less than $1 million.
He says the ACT Government needs to take more responsibility for land supply, over which it has control, and the Federal Government cannot be the only tier of government held to account.
Ms Berry said the Government was simply getting on with implementing the ACT Housing Strategy and acknowledged the “challenge that every government faces when addressing housing affordability”.
The median house price in Canberra has now skyrocketed to almost $1 million, and a CoreLogic report released earlier this month showed house prices in Canberra increased 30 per cent in just one year. Canberra was once again the most expensive city in the country in which to rent.
This week’s Vital Signs report also revealed housing affordability was one of the major factors keeping Canberrans in poverty.
Ms Berry said it was far too simplistic to suggest land supply was solely to blame, instead pointing the finger – as Chief Minister Andrew Barr had done earlier this month – at record low interest rates and tax incentives by the Federal Government for property investment.
“Any suggestion there is a simple solution to this is opportunistic, lazy and wrong,” she said.
She also noted additional land could not easily be secured as it would likely mean the destruction of green spaces and nature reserves.
Ms Berry released the latest report card for the ACT Housing Strategy, telling the Assembly consistent progress across all goals had been recorded in its third year of implementation.