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Thursday, April 15, 2021

Government land release strategy questioned

The ACT Government has shut down recent criticism that they have deliberately held back land sales to optimise revenue, saying such commentary is ill-informed.

On Monday 16 July, Opposition Leader Alistair Coe accused the ACT Government of gouging Canberrans in the property market through their land release policy.

“Labor’s land release policy and its unfair tax regime creates disadvantage by locking so many Canberrans out of the housing market,” Mr Coe said.

“By unfairly controlling land sales with an agenda to maximise government profit, housing will become even more expensive.”

Land Development Agency (LDA) annual reports from 2012-13 to 2016-17 showed the agency’s revenue was $66.7 million in 2013-14 and $78.1 million in 2014-15, before reaching $173.3 million in 2015-16 and $259.3 million in 2016-17.

A spokesperson for the ACT Chief Minister told Canberra Weekly the Government has not held back land sales to increase prices.

“The Government has released … over 40,000 dwelling sites in the last 10 years.

“Land releases for dwellings increased from around 3,200 in 2013-14 to over 4,900 in 2016-17. There has been no holding back of land sales to increase prices.”

But the spokesperson said the LDA dividend for 2013-14 was not directly correlated to land releases in that year.

They said the increase in dividends over the last few years reflects the cycle of land release, land development and then settlement of dwelling sites, and the increased supply.

“Typically, land released under the Indicative Land Release Program will not settle for one to two years due to the time needed to undertake civil works and service the raw land.

“Therefore, the revenue from those sales will not flow to the Budget as a dividend until one to two years later.”

The spokesperson also said that accelerated land release is not the only factor in the provisioning of affordable housing.

“There are a range of other measures that work in tandem with the land release program that can support more affordable housing.

“Tax reform at both the national level and the state and territory level can support the provision of more affordable housing choices.”

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