The State Government recognised the pressures that a rapidly growing economy was putting on housing affordability and was committed to helping ease the problem by investing more than $1.2billion in affordable housing and land initiatives in 2008-09 to deliver more social and indigenous housing and create home ownership opportunities, Treasurer Eric Ripper said today.
Mr Ripper said the State Government was on track to provide at least an additional 1,124 extra social housing dwellings over four years.
“In 2008-09, more than 980 new social housing dwellings will be procured and more than 600 current properties will be refurbished,” he said.
The Treasurer said the State Government was also investing in the Community Housing sector to bring new finance and more stock into the social housing system.
“Some $60million will be invested in 2008-09, to enable the community housing sector to provide more housing for people on the waitlist,” he said.
To provide more home ownership opportunities and sites for social housing, the Housing Authority’s land development programs will yield up to 3,182 residential lots in 2008-09, Mr Ripper said.
“These developments will include a range of affordable house and land packages, ideally suited to first home buyers,” he said.
In 2008-09, a further 1,000 Western Australian households would be helped by the State Government’s innovative First Start Shared Equity Scheme.
“Keystart will continue to help more people move into home ownership, providing about $510million for first homebuyers and a further $90million for other home ownership opportunities this financial year,” the Treasurer said.
Increased provision of quality, affordable housing for Government officers, including teachers and police, will also support the delivery of services for regional Western Australians.
“Up to $87million will be spent in 2008-09 to deliver more and improved housing for Government officers working in regional and remote communities,” Mr Ripper said.
Supporting sustainable indigenous communities remained a key focus of the State Government.
“WA is committed to working with the Commonwealth Government to bridge the gap on indigenous disadvantage and provide a safe and brighter future for indigenous children currently living in remote communities,” the Treasurer said.
“Expenditure on the indigenous housing and infrastructure program in 2008-09 will be $95.7million.”
To deliver sustainable and improved housing outcomes, the indigenous housing stock audit would continue in 2008-09 and provide critical information on the 2,200 existing houses and a thorough assessment of housing demand and housing governance in remote communities.
“The State Government will also invest $37.7million over the next two years to deliver essential services in remote indigenous communities,” Mr Ripper said.
The $45.9million Better Life Project in Halls Creeks would also continue in 2008-09 to improve child protection, housing, education and law and order.
Further strengthening remote communities, $5.4million had been allocated for the construction and operation of a new swimming pool in Fitzroy Crossing.
“The swimming pool will improve the health of the community and encourage more children to stay in school,” the Treasurer said.
Mr Ripper said the State Government had already introduced the most generous stamp duty exemptions in the nation for first homebuyers.
The reform of the Stamp Act and the introduction of the concessional rate scale for residential property in the 2008-09 Budget would see stamp duty payable on an average Perth house worth $457,000 fall by about 15 per cent or nearly $3,000, he said.
“We are also raising the land tax thresholds by an average of 13 per cent, including a $50,000 increase in the exemption threshold, reducing the two lowest marginal land tax rates by 33 per cent and reducing the metropolitan region improvement tax rate by 17 per cent to help make rental properties more attractive for investors.”
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