Monday, 19 October 2009
Solomon Electorate: Housing
I rise to speak briefly on some of the activities I have been engaged in in the last four weeks. While doorknocking in my electorate of Solomon, focusing on the satellite city of Palmerston outside Darwin, one of the issues that was raised a lot with me was about affordable accommodation and rental prices within my electorate and how the cost of housing in the Darwin and Palmerston areas will hinder our future prospects in the north, with Inpex and other major projects coming online. That was one of the issues that were coming up a lot on the doorsteps.
I held a housing forum and I had great support from the local industry with the major stakeholders that came along and spoke. There were a raft of different ideas that came up, from the Northern Territory government continuing to roll out more land to greater access to cheaper land for people who want to buy into the market. Certainly the federal government’s incentive for first home owners has been very popular in the Northern Territory, with some 1,100 of those options taken up. Also, the federal government has committed $60 million to crisis accommodation in my electorate, as well as 185 houses to the Defence Housing Authority in the suburbs of Lyons and Muirhead which will take some of the Defence Force people out of the private rental market and free that up a little bit for other people.
It is opportune that, at a time when we have a shortage of skilled tradesmen in Australia, the Deputy Prime Minister has announced $100 million funding to help get more apprentices. It was really disturbing to see a 20 per cent drop in traditional trades over the past 12 months. Not having tradesmen to work on houses puts extra costs on the industry and extra costs on building a home, and these costs are obviously passed on to the consumer. So it is really important that over the remainder of this year incentives are put in place so that businesses can go ahead and put on apprentices. The rebate has basically been tripled. It used to be around $1,500. The bonus is now almost $5,000; it has gone up to $4,850. This is about stimulating the apprenticeship industry—21,000 additional apprentices. That can only be a good thing. I would like to commend the Deputy Prime Minister for the contribution that she has made. It is very important. It is certainly very important to the building industry and it is very important to the consumers in my electorate of Solomon.