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Tuesday, 18 September 1973
Page: 1129


Mr HUNT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Since the Prime Minister has now stated that his primary objective, if he achieves price control powers, will be to control land prices in the States, how does he reconcile this statement with the dismal failure of his Minister for the Australian Capital Territory who has failed to stabilise prices and who in panic has cancelled all land sales for homes? Is the Prime Minister aware that building costs in the Australian Capital Territory are now the highest in Australia? Is he aware that land in unrestricted residential auctions was averaging $15,000 a block before the cancellation? If the Federal Government controls land prices in the States what guarantee is there that the Government will make a better fist of it in the States than it is making in the Australian Capital Territory?


Mr WHITLAM - The worst rise in land prices anywhere near Canberra is just over the border in New South Wales. I would ask the Minister for the Capital Territory to answer the rest of the question.


Mr ENDERBY - May I thank the Prime Minister for the opportunity to answer the question. It is well known that decisions taken about the middle of 1970 by the then Government restricted the expenditure on the servicing of land in Canberra and it is also well known that it takes 2i to 3 years to produce a serviced block of land to the quality required in Canberra. What was done back in 1970 and in 1971 by stopping the input of money for the production of serviced land m Canberra produced the mess that we inherited when we took over from the honourable member who asked the question. It is also well known that all during last year land prices escalated continuously under his administration. When we took over-


Mr Sinclair - They have gone up at such a rate-


Mr ENDERBY - No. When we took over the pattern continued.


Mr Sinclair - Accelerated.


Mr ENDERBY - No, it continued. I made a special trip to Western Australia to study the system over there. I have also discussed the problem with everybody who is knowledgeable in this field. The decision to stop land auctions was made deliberately and after a lot of thought and we are curtailing the escalation of land prices in Canberra. I have no hesitation in saying that the solution to the mess that we inherited from the previous Government is in sight. I invite honourable members to look at advertisements for land and houses in the 'Canberra Times' over the last month and I challenge them to deny this.


Mr Anthony - Look at the houses, too.


Mr ENDERBY - No, look at the advertisements. I challenge honourable members to deny this.


Mr Hunt - Prices have gone up.


Mr ENDERBY - They have not.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! There are far too many interjections. I ask the Minister to ignore interjections and to address the chair.


Mr ENDERBY - The imposition of a flexible system of rent control on residential land in the Australian Capital Territory has produced this very result. The mess that I described produced a situation in which young girls and young boys in Canberra were borrowing money and buying their third, fourth and fifth houses because of the escalating land values and land prices on completed houses produced by the government of the day. This situation arose from the lack of policies of the government of the day. I know of solicitors in Canberra who have bought their twelfth house and in one case his fifteenth house, for investment purposes. That practice has stopped. If one speaks to any of the people involved in finance operations in Canberra one will find that those people will say the practice has stopped because of measures taken in the last month or so. There is in the course of preparation a Cabinet submission - I hope it will be a joint submission by the Minister for Urban and Regional Development and myself - to put into play in Canberra in the very near future a land distribution system that will he a model for the whole of Australia.







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