Territory Stories

Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007



Debates Day 2 - Wednesday 14 February 2007

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Parliamentary Record 12


Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES Wednesday 14 February 2007 3841 house price in Darwin reduced by 3.9% over the December quarter. We are not just seeing a levelling off in the house price movement; we are beginning to see the first of a slight reduction. Those reductions will feed through to the CPI figure quite quickly, and we would expect some movement in the first quarter of this year following that, and again in the second quarter. My own view, and I have not tested this exactly with Treasury, is that we will see CPI return to the more traditional levels we have seen over the past five years by about mid-year. You have to look at these things in context. You cannot grab at that 5% December quarter CPI and say: Look, things are out of control. They are not. It is a temporary spike and the REINT figures, which are the first released and ahead of the pack in terms of Australian Property Management and ABS, are still showing some growth. In the next quarter figures, it will be very interesting to see who is right here. Certainly, REINT are the ones handling the transactions on a daily basis. They are seeing the flow of house sales, they know what those houses are selling at. I would have thought that they are closer to the action, closer to the ground, and I am putting my money on them to be the most accurate in terms of the forecasters. That takes me to affordability. The Leader of the Opposition yesterday was talking about affordability being off the map. We have shifted in housing affordability on the Australian list. We were the best jurisdiction for a long time in housing affordability. We slipped over the last quarter of last year to second. There is one place in Australia more affordable than us at the moment and that is ACT. However, if you talk to people from ACT, they find that unbelievable because they say their house prices are expensive. However, we are nowhere near the lead. Despite the drop off we have seen in New South Wales and Victoria, we are nowhere near their situation or, in fact, Western Australia. The member for Blain suggested that government will not release land, that land is too expensive and that forces up the price of getting into the housing market. There are 500 blocks available or about to be available across the Top End now as I stand here, and the Territory, on average, turns off 300 a year. How can you say there is a land shortage when on the market, or about to be on the market, are 500 blocks and an annual turn-off of 300 a year? We have almost two years worth, on average numbers, of land out there on the market now. It is not true to say there is a land shortage at all. The HIA runs this line frequently because they want to see great slabs of land released. They do not care what effect that is going to have on the market. They do not care about Mr and Mrs Smith in Wanguri and the effect that might have on the price of their house; they want to see more land released so they can get in there and develop it and build so they have jobs for their sector of the industry. That is fine. They are the industry spokesperson and it is their job to represent their industry and workers. However, the governments job is to have a bigger view and ensure integrity around the market. To say there is a land shortage when there are 500 blocks and an average turn-off of 300 a year is simply not true. The situation in Alice Springs - and I heard this, too, when I was down there about land shortage - is that over 40 blocks, I understand, in Larapinta Stage 2, are not selling - not selling. If you have blocks on the market and no one wants to buy them, it hardly suggests a land shortage. There are other factors at work that possibly need more exploration, understanding and analysis, but it is glib in the extreme to say that this is all around land availability. Nothing could be further from the truth. For years when the CLP were in government, we did have problems with land availability in Central Australia. The land availability question then was the inability of the CLP government of the day to come to terms with native title and negotiate land use agreements and open up that land. The member for Blain and I both know about the mass of land that you fly over to get to Alice Springs. I could never understand why the CLP did not sit down with native title holders and work through those issues, as this government did quite readily when it did come to office. It took some time. It was not easy, but this government was effective and successful in getting that land on to the market. I make those comments in relation to the fairly glib commentary that it all goes to land availability. That is not true. There are other factors that need to be understood, but almost two years worth of land in the Top End is available, and certainly land is available in Alice Springs. Going back to the heart of the mid-year report, from an economic perspective, the key highlights include: gross state product revised up from 5.8% at the time of the budget in May last year to 6.2%; employment growth revised upwards from 2.3% to 5% due to stronger growth across all sectors; and population growth revised up from 1.5% to 1.7% due to stronger than estimated nett interstate migration to the Northern Territory. In those terms, the only doomsayers are the Country Liberal Party because they see it as in