Greens-led Cost of Living Inquiry recommends reforms for housing, concessions and health programs to address growing inequality crisis and help struggling Canberrans.  

ACT Greens Member for Brindabella Johnathan Davis MLA has tabled the report from the Select Committee into Cost of Living Pressures in the ACT Legislative Assembly this morning. Mr Davis served as the Chair of this committee.

The Committee has made 52 recommendations to the ACT Government aimed at addressing the cost of living pressures faced by Canberrans. These recommendations spread across health, education, housing, legal services, income support, planning, community services, utilities, sport, transport and advocacy to the Federal Government.

“This is one of the most important pieces of work I’ve participated in during my relatively short time in the Assembly,” Mr Davis said.

“I am pleased that this tri-partisan committee has been able to agree on 52 recommendations to the ACT Government.

“Rising interest rates and the impact of inflation are flowing through our economy and into the budgets of Canberra households. There is so much more the ACT Government can do to ease the pressure on the budgets of Canberra households – that starts with the ACT Government adopting all 52 of the committee’s recommendations in full.

Of the diversity of issues covered by the committee, one issue was omnipresent - Housing. The committee has made a range of recommendations to the ACT Government related to housing, including 8 recommendations specifically related to public housing. In particular, the committee has recommended that Auditor-General consider conducting a performance audit into the management of the Growing and Renewing Public Housing Program.

“The Parliamentary & Governing Agreement commits the ACT Government to increase the amount of public housing properties by at least 400 by 2025. The ACT Government is trying to walk away from that commitment – that is unacceptable. The ACT Government must recommit to that target and find a way to honour it.

“There have been a number of pressures facing the building and construction sector which are challenging the ACT Governments ability to meet their target through building new properties alone. In order to meet their target, the ACT Government should be buying more properties from the private market to honour that Parliamentary & Governing Agreement commitment.

Mr Davis has issued a dissenting report, with an additional 3 recommendations targeted at easing the cost of living for the more than 30 percent of Canberra households that rent.

“Canberra is a good market for property investors. We know this because property investors continue to invest in Canberra at increasing rates. The proportion of home in Canberra owned by property investors has increased from 26% of total dwellings in 2011-12 to 30% of total dwellings in 2022-23. Meanwhile, renters are seeing rents increase at seven times the rate of their wages. This growing gaps between the haves and the have nots is unsustainable and must be reined in by Government if were to truly call ourselves a progressive city.

“This is a rental crisis – the ACT Government must consider calls to freeze and further cap rents.

The committee additionally made 5 recommendations in areas where the ACT Government should advocate to the Federal Government.

“The Federal Labor Government continues to make the choice to keep millions of Australians living in poverty, trying to survive on income support payments below the poverty line – this includes thousands of Canberrans. These Canberrans are instead relying on the stretched and over-worked community sector to access the basics like food and clothing.

“I am very pleased that this tri-partisan committee has recommended that the ACT Government advocate to the Federal Government to increase the rate of all income support payments to above the Henderson poverty line. Coincidentally, this is also Australian Greens policy.

“The Federal Labor Government’s budget gives just $2.85 per day more to those living below the poverty line. Meanwhile, it gives billionaires and politicians $25 per day, or $9,000 per year in the form of the stage 3 tax cuts. I don’t need a tax cut – I need my constituents on income support payments brought out of poverty.