The ACT is a "very challenging" jurisdiction for property developers to do business, far more so than NSW, according the head of a major construction company building on both sides of the border.
Village Building Company chief executive and ACT Property Council president Travis Doherty has also laid down the gauntlet to the major parties ahead of Saturday's election, saying the next territory government should seize the opportunity to fix a planning system he said needed to "fundamentally change".
Mr Doherty on Tuesday hosted Canberra Liberals leader Alistair Coe at Village Building Company's South Jerrabomberra development, the 1250-home housing estate under construction just east of Hume on the NSW side of the border.
Mr Coe has put housing developments such South Jerrabomberra at the centre of his election pitch, arguing neighbouring NSW communities have become the first and only option for many Canberra families because of the high cost of living in the ACT.
The Liberal leader has declared repeatedly throughout the campaign his ambition to lure "Canberra refugees" back to the ACT with promises of a more affordable lifestyle.
But there was a subtle change in emphasis on Tuesday, with Mr Coe indicating the primary focus of his population growth strategy would be stopping ACT residents leaving in the first place.
"Once the houses are constructed here [in NSW], for all time there is going to be rates paid here in NSW and there is going to be Commonwealth government revenue which flows to the NSW government rather than the ACT government," he said.
"It's very important that we stem the flow of people moving from the ACT and, where possible, try to bring back some of those families that have left."
Mr Coe said the Liberals' promise of $25,000 grants to buyers of Suburban Land Agency blocks, and the release of more land for detached housing, would help to bring homeownership closer within reach for average Canberra families.
The Opposition leader again refused to put a figure on how many extra blocks would be released under a Liberal government, saying only it would aim higher than Labor's 30 per cent greenfield housing target.
Tuesday's media event had the potential for some awkward moments between Mr Coe and Mr Doherty, given the Liberals are wanting to retain in the ACT the same people who are buying into the South Jerrabomberra estate. About 80 per cent of the 300 blocks sold so far at the estate have been to ACT residents.
Mr Doherty joked that of course he wanted people to buy and stay in South Jerrabomberra, but said as the head of a company building in both jurisdictions he wanted to "see people thrive whether its in NSW or the ACT".
Asked to compare the two jurisdictions from a property developer's perspective, Mr Doherty was emphatic.
"The ACT is very challenging to do business, the planning system needs to fundamentally change," he said.
"NSW is, from our experience, far easier, more predictable and far more collegiate and collaborative. Any new government taking charge from the Monday coming ... I think there is a huge opportunity."
Mr Doherty's company is behind the long-planned redevelopment of the old AFP site in Weston. The ACT Planning and Land Authority earlier this year rejected the developer's $140 million proposal, prompting it to launch an appeal to the territory's administrative appeals tribunal.
Village Building Company had been a regular donor to the Canberra Liberals under founder and long-serving boss Bob Winnel. Mr Winnel handed the reigns of the company to Mr Doherty in 2016.
The company has not made a donation to the Liberals since the 2016-17 financial year.