18 May 2022

Pocock renews calls for Feds to wipe ACT's $100 million historic housing debt

| Lottie Twyford
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Aerial View, Drone, Weston Creek, Houses

The ACT owes the Federal Government more than $100 million in historic housing debt. Photo: Region Media.

The ACT’s $100 million-plus historic housing debts should be waived by whichever party forms a Federal Government on Saturday, ACT Senate candidate David Pocock says.

According to the high-profile independent, the move would free up funds for social housing as the Territory grapples with an affordability crisis.

The former Wallabies captain has pledged that, if elected, he would use his position on the crossbench to call on the government to review the GST redistribution and waive the Territory’s housing, land and building debts owed to the Federal Government.

The $100 million-plus debt was inherited when self-government was granted in 1989.

The debt means the local government has to pay back around half of the money it receives under the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement every year.

“On the current trajectory, the ACT’s housing debt won’t be paid off until 2041-42, during which time close to $33 million will be paid in interest payments alone,” Mr Pocock said.

“That’s money that could be much better spent actually building new social and affordable housing, especially given the ACT Government’s limited capacity to raise revenue.”

David Pocock

Independent Senate candidate David Pocock said he would use his position on the crossbench to call for the Federal Government to waive the ACT’s historic housing debt. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

What Mr Pocock has promised to do has some precedent.

In 2019, the Federal Government agreed to waive Tasmania’s $150 million housing debt as part of a deal in exchange for Senator Jacquie Lambie’s support for income tax cuts.

In the same year, it wiped South Australia’s $320 million housing debt.

As part of the Tasmanian deal, the state government was required to spend all the money it saved on public and affordable housing.

Since then, the ACT Government has been calling on the Commonwealth to step up to the plate and offer similar concessions to the ACT.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has been lobbying the Federal Government to waive the Territory’s housing debt since it struck similar deals in 2019 with other states. Photo: Ian Bushnell

Following the Tasmania deal in 2019, Chief Minister Andrew Barr began arguing the case for the ACT.

The ACT did not have a crossbench senator at the time, nor does it currently have one, but Mr Barr argued that political bargaining power should not be relevant to waiving the debt.

“It is entirely untenable for the Commonwealth to do one special deal with Tasmania and leave the rest of the country out. That just won’t stand politically,” he said.

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At the handing down of the last Federal Budget, the ACT Government again called on their Commonwealth counterparts to forgive the historic debt, arguing the money would be better spent on social housing.

Labor Senator Katy Gallagher has repeatedly been critical of the government for not having waived the historic housing debt or accepted the local government’s calls for refinancing it.

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To the tune of Bad Boys (Inner Circle):

Bad boys, mean girls whatcha gonna do?
Whatcha gonna do when they don’t vote for you?
Bad boys, mean girls whatcha gonna do?
Whatcha gonna do when Pocock comes for you?

Yah, funny about that Acton … seems like they did vote for the Mean Girls

Capital Retro9:43 am 19 May 22

“The Greens are the only ones whose plan would keep us below 1.5 degree.”

Their plan is working! It was -3 degrees this morning.

Yes, Capital Retro, and even colder in Liberal Party HQ

What about the $1bn loan that Katy Gallagher took on for the Mr Fluffy debacle? She never fought for the Federal Government to pay for the disaster that happened on its watch over the Territory. No, she was in such a hurry to get to the Senate she threw the ACT under the financial bus and has done nothing for us since. Get rid of her too.

Where was Zed when all these debts were being forgiven in these other States?

Per capita the ACT has NOT been looked after!

I am sick of seeing his face everywhere but I’m prepared to give David Pocock a run, what we currently have has not worked, it is time for a change.

“Per capita” is a meaningless metric used to stir up the ignorant.

We also don’t receive our “per capita” share of welfare payments, should we complain about that?

Or should we recognise there are obvious reasons why this might occur?

ilovecanberra8:28 pm 18 May 22

It’s good that David Pocock is calling for the debt to be waived too. The Greens and Labor have been doing it for a long time.
The most important thing to people in today’s RiotAct poll is climate change. I truly hope they will vote accordingly. We don’t have another 3 years of inaction. The Greens are the only ones with an effective plan to limit temperature increase to less than 1.5.

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