Time to Shine

Since self-government the property industry has underpinned the development of Canberra as an independent and progressive city.  As the largest private sector industry independent of government, ensuring the ongoing health of the building and construction sector in the wake of the federal budget will be fundamental. 

The Territory government’s announcement to pull back its land release program by 3,000 dwelling sites over the next three years highlights a cause for concern - indicative of the anticipation that demand for new housing will slow as the city comes to terms with the impact of a reduced Australian public service.  While recent tax reform initiatives such as stamp duty relief and reductions in lease variation charges and commence and complete penalties are very welcome - making it easier for home buyers and property investors to see Canberra as a viable option - the fact remains that without new sites to offer to the public, some of our local builders will struggle to survive.

It is imperative over the coming years that government works with industry to identify opportunities and monitor the market to ensure that supply meets demand - flexibility will be key.

In such a climate, a monopoly on the release of land just doesn’t make sense.  Imagine a city where there was only one place to buy food and drink!  The Land Development Agency’s intention to corner land sales means that many local developers will go hungry as they compete for a smaller pool of opportunity.  Some of these businesses will move interstate and with them will go jobs and investment in the community.

The benefit of a more balanced approach to land release is clear.  You don’t have to look far to find examples where our local developers have achieved exceptional outcomes.  Crace in north Canberra is a case in point - a collaboration of the Crace Joint Venture (the Land Development Agency and Crace Developments) - the suburb has set a new standard for suburban development in Canberra and was recently awarded the national Property Council RPS Award for Best Master Planned Community.  It demonstrates how a partnership between the public and private sectors can result in innovation, affordability, sustainability and fantastic amenity.

Now is the time to give industry an opportunity to shine so that we can build a resilient and prosperous national capital.

Catherine Carter is ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia