1 September 2020

Rattenbury puts housing top of list for next Parliamentary Agreement

| Ian Bushnell
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Shane Rattenbury

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury: ”If you vote for the Greens the outcomes have flowed.” Photos: Michelle Kroll.

ACT Greens leader and government minister Shane Rattenbury has named housing as the top priority for any future Parliamentary Agreement between his party and Labor.

Mr Rattenbury, outgoing Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur and Chief Minister Andrew Barr fronted the media yesterday (31 August) to discuss the outcomes of the current agreement of the ninth Assembly, most of which have been delivered but the handful that haven’t include several housing initiatives.

Mr Rattenbury said if the Greens were again in a position after the 17 October election to play a role in government, ”we’ve made it clear that housing is a key issue that has to be tackled in the next four years”.

He added that the Greens’ Housing First approach was aimed at alleviating poverty, something that was likely to increase as a result of the pandemic.

”If you have somewhere secure to live so many of your other problems can start to be sorted out; in fact, fade away because you’ve got that secure foundation and that’s why we put a particular focus on housing,” he said.

Climate change would also be important, especially reducing emissions in the transport and gas sectors.

Caroline Le Couteur

Caroline Le Couteur is disappointed that some housing initiatives have not been realised.

Ms Le Couteur was disappointed that initiatives to do with establishing a Nightingale Housing Model in Canberra, housing energy efficiency and auditing of building certifiers had not been completed, but is hopeful that they would be realised in the next term of government, if there is a similar Assembly arrangement.

She said a highlight for her had been the adoption of deliberative democracy methods to work through compulsory third-party insurance, and the Better Suburbs and Housing Choices processes. She hoped it would be an enduring legacy from this assembly.

The Parliamentary Agreement has been a big win for the Greens and a vehicle for implementing its key policies.

”If you vote for the Greens, the outcomes have flowed,” Mr Rattenbury said.

But he batted away a question about whether the Greens would consider doing a deal with the Canberra Liberals.

”We don’t presume to get that far ahead of ourselves. There is a long way to go to polling day,” he said.

But the fact is, as Mr Barr pointed out, 90 per cent of Greens preferences went to Labor and vice versa, so a Greens-Liberal agreement is unlikely.

All three agreed that while the Greens and Labor did not agree on everything, the Parliamentary Agreement had been effective.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr: “Our alliance has been effective in providing stable government at a time when our community and our city needs it more than ever.”

The Chief Minister cited a willingness to engage on policy issues, to listen to each other’s perspectives and try to find common ground.

”What’s been particularly important in 2020 has been an ability to compromise, to work together on shared problems and that our alliance has been effective in providing stable government at a time when our community and our city needs it more than ever,” Mr Barr said.

The final Parliamentary Agreement status update shows 105 items delivered or on track to be delivered, and six delayed or not progressing, mainly due to COVID-19.

They include delivering 100 per cent renewable electricity for the ACT, new nurse-led walk-in centres, mass tree plantings, more school psychologists, light rail, the Integrity Commission, banning developers from donating to political parties, more public and affordable housing, the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, a Drug and Alcohol Court, banning greyhound racing and trialling the use of deliberative democracy programs such as citizen’s juries.

Those unrealised included housing for people with mental illness and lived trauma, a review of the effectiveness of the Energy Efficiency Ratings Scheme, a regulatory impact statement into setting minimum EER standards for rental properties, and ensuring cultural connections are considered in planning and heritage assessments.

A bid to expand the scope of the ACT Register of Lobbyists fell short, with the Assembly resolving that the matter not be considered before the beginning of the 10th Assembly.

The Agreement item sought to include in-house government relations staff, industry associations, and project management liaison officers and companies, and conduct a review of its effectiveness after one year.

On track are initiatives such as light rail stage 2, a move to change the ACT-NSW border in West Belconnen, updating the energy efficiency of the bus fleet, providing specialist housing providers, implementing the key findings of the Waste Feasibility Study and expanding cat containment.

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George Watling11:58 pm 04 Sep 20

The governments case for 70,000 new homes in existing suburbs is weak. We have an over supply of new housing in Canberra and 5,000 new blocks have just been made available in the Parkwood estate. Regarding the argument that we can keep building houses because we are running out of farmland and bushland is a wobbly one too. It should be noted according to Dept. Agriculture ‘Intensive uses (mainly urban) only accounts for 0.18% of land use in Australia while Agriculture and Forestry accounts for 59.69% of land use. https://www.agriculture.gov.au/abares/aclump/land-use.

Firstly, there isn’t 5000 homes available at Ginninderry, that’s the long term releases over the next 10-15 years.

If we actually had an oversupply of houses as you claim, prices would have crashed but they haven’t.

The idea isn’t that we will run out of farmland, although in the ACT the freely available future Greenfield areas are limited, the idea is that a more compact city makes city services more efficient to deliver and increases the amenity for residents because they can live closer to the main employment and social hubs of the city.

The city is changing and becoming denser as it has since it was founded. The idea that we can freeze time so that the city never changes is simply not possible.

When you came here (or were born) you were part of a generation that changed the landscape of the city, why do you think future residents shouldn’t be given the same chances?

And If you don’t like these changes, you are free to move somewhere more suitable, exactly like the people who lived here before you were.

I should also note, none of these changes need to come at the expense of a green liveable city.

We have massive amounts of land locked away as nature reserves that can never be touched. We have significant amounts of public green spaces and water bodies that are similarly locked away.

According to Wikipedia, Canberra is already a surprisingly densely populated city by Australian standards.

It comes in as the second densest of our capitals, slightly behind Melbourne but far ahead of Sydney.

Sorry Spiral, but the population density calculations on Wikipeda are flat-out wrong, and appear to have been calculated by dividing the population of Canberra in June 2017 (410,301) by the urban area of Canberra in July 2009 (814.2 square kilometres). This would obviously exclude the footprint of several new suburbs in Gungahlin and Molonglo that have been developed in the intervening eight years.

If that is the case then quickly doing the calculation using that area and the 2009 population (351,868) doesn’t seem to change much. Canberra still comes in at second place, though just a bit denser than current Sydney.

Of course the suburbs developed since 2009 seem to have a greater population density than those before and there has been heaps of urban infill in existing suburbs too.

Being statistics, there are unfortunately, many ways of calculating the figures. For example which parts of greater Sydney do we include? And do we include the “unused” land and parks between the regions of Sydney?

It seems quite clear, regardless of exactly where our city falls in Australian rankings, Canberra is quite densely populated by Australian standards.

Spiral, I strongly suggest that we rely on sources other than Wikipedia, which in this particualar instance has proven to be demonstrably false.

A Centenary Review of Transport Planning in Canberra (2013) states that Canberra’s urban density is 10.8 persons per hectare, compared to Melbourne’s 15.5 per hectare and Sydney’s 20.4 per hectare. The ACT Planning Strategy 2018 states that Canberra’s density is the second lowest in Australia, at 10.62 persons per hectare compared to Adelaide’s is 14 per hectare.

So unless you can produce reliable data that suggests otherwise, I don’t think the evidence supports your assertion that Canberra is “quite densly populated by Australian standards”.

George Watling9:05 am 04 Sep 20

The list of open spaces and parks the ACT Government has built on and wants to build on is long. It includes – Bill Kennedy Memorial park in Holder. Kippax ovals. Tuggeranong lakeshore along Drakeford between Athlon and Erindale Drives. Darwin Park in Chapman. Proposed developments in other parks and open spaces includes – the Turner green space along Sullivan’s Creek, the Lawson grass and wood lands, the volcanic boulders area in Ainslie, the Coombe’s peninsular, and Coolo park in Weston.

Capital Retro12:54 pm 03 Sep 20

Geez, I hope Labor win an absolute majority in the next election.

George Watling1:14 am 02 Sep 20

I am all for more public and affordable housing but it can’t come at the expense of a green liveable city. The rabid urban infill policies pursued by Barr and Rattenbury has left a trail of destruction across the ACT. Green spaces and parks are being built over left, right, and centre. Whole streets in Weston Creek and the Woden Valley have been turned over to bulldoze everything and build from fence to fence builders.
While the government and developers are making a mint destroying our suburbs everyday people are stuck with:
+ Increased congestion on their roads,
+ Reduced privacy,
+ Reduced access to sunlight and open spaces,
+ Increased noise, air, and light pollution,
+ Excess demand on local area services that can’t be met (shops, cafes, schools, GPs, etc.)
+ Decreased property values as new and existing homes are hit by reduced privacy, access to sunlight and open spaces,
+ Increase local summer temperatures and cooling costs, reduce air quality, and protection from high winds as trees are cut down and gardens build over to make way of oversized houses on micro blocks.

So you must prefer farmland and bushland on the edge of the city to be built over instead, as without infill, that’s the alternative. More expensive and less efficient public transport. More expensive and less efficient services generally. The only way to stop the infill happening is for Australia to stabilise its population. This is up to the Federal government (not the local government) whether or not Australia stabilisers the population, but except for a break due to Covid, the Australian governments of both main parties policies have been ‘pack em in’. I hope you consider this in how you vote Federally.

Serious question can you provide a list of what parks and green spaces have it are being built over?

George Watling9:02 am 04 Sep 20

Yes – Bill Kennedy Memorial park in Holder. Kippax ovals. Tuggeranong lakeshore along Drakeford between Athlon and Erindale Drives. Darwin Park in Chapman. Proposed developments in other parks and open spaces include – the Turner green space along Sullivan’s Creek, the Lawson grass lands, the volcanic boulders area in Ainslie, the Coombe’s peninsular, and Coolo park in Weston.

ACT Labor’s track record on housing affordability is pure virtue signalling. No real meaningful action for 15 years and no valid excuses for worsened outcomes – just flat denials there is a problem and that the majority don’t aspire to apartments built by their developer mates. Even this year in the face of rising ACT prices at the same time people lose jobs and rely on gov handouts to make ends meet, the ACT government is cutting land release targets to support land price appreciation. ACT Labor is doing their bit to ensure future Australian’s are uncompetitive internationally and on track for 21st century serfdom.

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