ACT News


Gallagher concedes tax hurting

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has conceded that territory's tax regime could be hurting housing affordability in Canberra.

Ms Gallagher was reacting to a report by Anglicare that found that Canberra rental accommodation crisis was nation's worst after a property snapshot found there was ''virtually no affordable housing''.

The Canberra Liberals blamed 10 years of ACT Labor government for failing to deal with the crisis and the ACT Greens called for an overhaul of planning laws to allow the private sector to build more cheaply.

Anglicare Australia's annual Rental Affordability Snapshot, issued yesterday, found fewer than 140 listed properties suitable for a variety of low-income earners were recorded for the Canberra and Queanbeyan area.

But the Chief Minister said that there had to be a ''range of solutions,'' to the crisis.

''I don't think there's single solution, I think there's a range of solutions and one of them is meeting demand in the market with our land release program,'' she said.


''The other issue is tax and how we can look at our tax system and how there can be incentives to either provide low-cost rentals or low-cost housing.

''I think some of the issues at the moment with our land tax and our stamp duty works against that kind of result.''

Three of the ACT Government's ''big four'' revenue measures - stamp duty, rates and land tax - are levies on property and Ms Gallagher has been flagging her party's desire to diversify the revenue base and take pressure off housing.

The Quinlan Review of taxation in the territory, which is expected to recommend sweeping reforms, is due to be issued next Monday.

Ms Gallagher also said that measures in the Lease Variation Charge legislation to provide tax breaks for property owners to convert aging unwanted offices to apartments had been disappointing.

''We've tried to do that but we haven't had enormous success,'' she said.

''In the last month I think we've had one request to fulfil that type of criteria, so the developers at the moment aren't inundating us with that sort of application.''

The building industry has said there was confusion about the criteria for tax breaks but Ms Gallagher said the offer on ageing office stock had always been clear.

''I'd accept that criticism on other criteria that is in the legislation but not on C and D grade office buildings, we've said bring us a proposal and we will look at it and we haven't seen anything,'' she said.

Opposition Leader Zed Seselja said yesterday that the Anglicare report showed ACT Labor has had 10 years to solve the capital's housing problem and had failed.

''I think this is very disturbing report in many ways,'' Mr Seselja said.

''We know that in Canberra, there really is no affordable housing, there is some housing that is a little bit more affordable than other housing but for low income earners and many middle income earners, housing is not affordable.

''This report confirms that after a decade of Labor in office, that things have just got tougher and tougher for families when it comes to buying a home and renting a home.''