Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria)— My question is also to the Minister for Planning. Access to affordable and appropriate housing is a critical element in building sustainable, diverse and inclusive communities. I ask the minister to advise the house what initiatives VicUrban is undertaking to improve access to affordable housing in Victoria.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN (Minister for Planning)— It heartens me when members of this chamber ask intelligent, incisive and courageous questions, and I welcome Ms Tierney’s question in relation to this matter.
As we have always said we will be, the Brumby government is committed to improving housing affordability in this state. We want to do that, and we also want to maintain the reputation of this state in making Victoria a desirable place to live, work and raise a family. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to do that in the face of the five interest rate rises that we have seen implemented in effect by the federal government since 2004.
The federal government wanted to make the point that it was the repository of all knowledge when it comes to interest rates. But when the going gets tough, it gets going as far away as it possibly can. Through VicUrban and through a whole lot of other initiatives we are committed to seeing well-designed, affordable, quality housing as part of community building, and that is a key focus of the new Department of Planning and Community Development.
Today I am delighted to inform the house that VicUrban is currently performing exceptionally well in this area. VicUrban has a target to ensure that on average a minimum of 40 per cent of its lots are delivered in the lowest price quartile of local markets.
Mr Jennings interjected.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — But as Mr Jennings has said, there is more, because VicUrban’s current performance against the target is not 40 per cent, it is 56 per cent. It is exceeding its target. On top of that, earlier this month I helped launch VicUrban’s Sustainable and Affordable Home Design project, which is a chance to help lead the volume builder market to provide more sustainable and affordable housing. The federal government has vacated the territory when it comes to affordable housing. It announced that every state in Australia has received some funding from the federal government’s budget surplus — that is, every state except Victoria. Where are its initiatives on housing affordability? They are not there.
I have to get this right. The Liberal Party’s aspirational nationalism — I think it is described as — has already been criticised in the Age, and I know Mr Theophanous is a great advocate of the Age newspaper.
It has been described in the Age as a euphemism for government plans to spend our money wherever it will buy votes, even if they are not areas of federal government responsibility. It says, ‘Your taxes at work to re-elect the federal government’.
But what is the federal government doing in Victoria on housing affordability? Absolutely nothing! By contrast the Brumby government is delivering the cheapest — —
Mr Finn interjected.
Hon. J. M. MADDEN — Mr Finn would know about the cheapest. We are delivering the cheapest residential land of all mainland capital cities.
That has been endorsed by the development industries that consider the Victorian state government’s policy position on land release as one of the best of any city in Australia. We will continue to do that. We will continue to do it through VicUrban, not only with a metropolitan focus but also with a provincial focus so that VicUrban complements its work in provincial Victoria.
Despite those five interest rate rises by the federal government, we will get on with doing our part, doing the job of providing affordable and appropriate homes in Melbourne and right across Victoria. VicUrban is doing its part in putting in place such strong policies — in contrast to no policies. We will make sure we continue to make Melbourne and Victoria better places to live, work and raise a family.