Committee Communiqué

Treasurer Tim Pallas Follow NSW infrastructure lead

As Victoria gets set to establish our own Infrastructure Victoria entity, we can look to New South Wales and their revised model of independence for the funding and assessing of new projects as a model to build on. Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, CEO Kate Roffey noted that attaching a reliable funding base to an independently prioritised pipeline of projects is a critical aspect in delivering the best outcomes. The Baird Government has already committed to injecting the net proceeds from the lease of the State's poles and wires – projected to be around 20 billion dollars – into an infrastructure fund, along with any other higher than expected tax revenue. This money will then be used to fund prioritised infrastructure projects. Given the strain on financial resources at the moment, it is critical our limited funds are spent on projects of the greatest value, and linking independent prioritisation and funding is a key to maximising our value for money. The establishment of this funding stream, along with the renewed obligation government has to make recommendations made by Infrastructure NSW public, is leading the way in best practice in Australia.

Apartment minimum standards

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has released a discussion paper to review apartment planning standards across Melbourne. The issue is not necessarily one of size or number, but rather ensuring that the design, amenity and functionality of apartments and apartment buildings are appropriate for our city. While we struggle to continue to provide affordable housing options for residents – particularly in and around the more expensive CBD and inner-city areas that have better access to jobs, public transport and other services – we must ask ourselves at what cost to our liveability. When we have apartments being built that are less than 50 square metres in size – apartments that would not be allowed in Sydney – or apartment bedrooms with no windows which would not be allowed in New York or Hong Kong, then it is time we sat down and took stock. We are a rapidly growing city, but we have nowhere near the population density of Hong Kong or Manhattan. It is important we ensure there are some appropriate minimum standards to maintain our liveability. The Committee will be convening a round table discussion for members regarding a submission to the Better Apartments Discussion Paper in the coming weeks. An invitation to members will go out shortly.

NZ Government tackles Auckland housing boom

The New Zealand Government is set to introduce new tax rules and bank measures in an effort to arrest Auckland’s housing boom. At the end of March 2015, house prices in Auckland had increased by 16.9 per cent over the past 12 months as opposed to 3.2 per cent across the rest of the country. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand believed this posed a strong enough risk to financial stability to warrant tighter tax rules on residential property as well as new Central Bank measures. From October 1, gains on residential property sold within two years of purchase will be taxed unless it is the seller's main home, inherited from a deceased estate or transferred as part of a relationship property settlement. The Reserve Bank will also require residential property investors in Auckland to have a minimum deposit of 30 per cent to qualify for a mortgage. In addition, non-resident buyers will also be required to hold a New Zealand bank account and an Inland Revenue tax identification number to ensure that international property investors pay their fair share of tax along with residents.

Victorian Family Violence Index

Victoria is set to become a world leader in the battle against domestic violence with the introduction of a new Victorian Family Violence Index. One in three women in Victoria are affected by domestic violence which is the leading cause of disability and death in Victorian women under 45. In 2014, more than 68,000 incidents were reported to Victoria Police. The State Government has commissioned Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety to advise on the development of the index, which could include indicators like hospital presentations, police data, the number of convicted perpetrators and homelessness, as well as community attitudes towards women and violence. The aim of the index is to provide a comprehensive data system that will not only help us understand family violence, but will also provide a benchmark from which we can measure how we are performing over time on decreasing the incidence of violence in the home. In addition, it will help determine new policy directions and better direct funding and other resources.

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