Prime Minister Julia Gillard's cabinet reshuffle has been labelled a win for affordable housing.
The new cabinet lineup sees Robert McLelland take on the role of Minister for Housing and Homelessness. Lobby group Australians for Affordable Housing said the move shows a commitment to address housing issues.
"The inclusion of a single Housing Minister in the Federal Cabinet, responsible for all Commonwealth housing policies and programs, is something we have been advocating for and we’re hopeful that this demonstrates that the Gillard Government is making housing affordability in Australia one of its top priorities," AHA campaign manager Sarah Toohey said.
Meanwhile, the market may be beginning to level off. ABS figures show the total number of finance commitments for owner occupied housing rose 0.7% in October. However, the value of lending commitments to owner occupiers fell 2.5%.
HIA chief economist Harley Dale called the result "a mixed bag".
"The update for October 2011 showed a weaker result for new home lending for both owner occupiers and investors, together with further modest improvement in aggregate lending for first time and trade-up owner occupiers." he said. "New home lending appears to have largely flattened out through 2011, but at levels below the decade average."
The HIA nevertheless praised McLelland's appointment.
"Creating a ministry which includes ‘under one roof’ all facets of housing supply across the spectrum of public and social housing, together with private owner-occupier and rental stock is a crucial step towards delivering a successful package of housing supply policy reform and implementation is achieved," HIA managing director Shane Goodwin said.