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Strategy to deliver public housing boost

The ACT Government has committed to invest $100 million in public housing over the next five years, as part of the ACT Housing Strategy released on Monday. The $100 million investment includes the delivery of 200 new homes, as well as the renewal of 1,000 homes.

The strategy also sets a target to set aside 15% of all government land releases for public, community and affordable housing, growing the number of additional homes delivered each year to around 630.

In a joint statement, Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Housing and Suburb Development Yvette Berry said the new investment will ensure Canberra’s public housing stock meets demand as the city grows.

“These targets will be met within a broader plan to maintain a sufficient supply of new land to meet future housing demand. Over the next four years, the Government plans to release sites for 17,000 new homes in Canberra,” the statement said.

The strategy, which also includes more community housing and stronger protections for renters, has been welcomed by various groups in the ACT, but there are calls for work to be undertaken in conjunction with industry, community and government.

ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) director Susan Helyar said the strategy delivers on the “substantial community expectations” for affordable housing in significant quantities, but the challenge will be moving from “solid policy production to prompt delivery”.

“The Government has produced a strategy with sound frameworks and a line of sight between vision and the deliverables. The task now will be comprehensive coordinated and sustained implementation of those deliverables over time.”

ACT executive director of the Property Council, Adina Cirson said the strategy “clearly articulates five goals on how to best meet the housing needs of Canberrans – and the collaboration now needed between the public, private and community sectors in order to deliver on it”.

“We are calling for a Housing Strategy Ministerial Advisory Council to be established so that as each of the actions outlined in the plan are funded, we are able to pool our expertise and firsthand knowledge of how to best implement them.”

Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said all ACT Directorates must work together to ensure the strategy’s success.

He said the positive impact of the $100 million investment would be “abolished” by Federal Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

The Federal Labor proposal is to limit negative gearing to new housing and halve the CGT discount for all assets purchased, both after a “yet to be determined date”.

ACT Shadow Minister for Housing Mark Parton echoed concerns regarding deadlines and implementation.

“While we are broadly supportive of the strategy, it’s obvious that much more work needs to be done to free up land supply and fix the Labor-Greens’ aggressive rates and land tax system,” Mr Parton said.

“The Canberra Liberals will be scrutinising very closely how this strategy is enacted. We have put forward strong policies in this space and I think the Government is feeling that pressure.”

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