Urban Taskforce Australia lauds housing affordability and supply report

The report cuts through the self-serving sophistry of public servants, planners, and academics, industry leader says

Urban Taskforce Australia lauds housing affordability and supply report


By Mina Martin

Tom Forrest, chief executive of Urban Taskforce Australia, has commended the Federal Parliamentary Inquiry into Housing Affordability and Supply, as well as the drive and determination of committee chair Jason Falinski, for tackling the big issues on housing affordability.

“The report pins the responsibility for rising prices and the lack of supply, on poor planning, poorly targeted taxes and charges, a lack of leadership, and a regulatory environment which favours reducing supply and increasing costs over meeting demand for housing with housing supply for our growing population,” Forrest said.

The recommendations included increasing urban density to meet housing supply needs for large Australian cities and providing additional infrastructure to support local communities that are prepared to accommodate growth.

“Economic growth depends on population growth,” Forrest said. “But we need to ensure that as the population grows, they have homes to live in and that means a clear focus on supply.”

The findings also promote the Commonwealth taking on a more direct role in providing funding to support councils and states that boost housing numbers.

“That means a ‘stick’ for states which over-regulate and fail to deliver sufficient housing supply and ‘carrots’ for those that cut the red tape and support growth,” Forrest said.

With over 98% of all new homes developed and delivered by the private sector on to the private housing market, Forrest said focusing on social housing is not the way to solve worsening affordability issues.

“If housing supply was depicted as a dog, social housing would be the end of its tail,” he said. “The dog (housing supply) is sick. Affordability has gone through the floor. You don’t cure the dog by supplementing its tail.”

Forrest slammed Labor members for their “political move” of rejecting report recommendations, saying they have “missed the opportunity for reform.”

“Clearly the findings, which revolve around reducing red tape and driving increased private housing supply, did not fit neatly with the romantic recasting of the joys of 1960s-style social housing estates, that appear to be driving the soft socialist agenda of some in the Albanese team,” Forrest said.

Forrest also noted that although the report identifies a clear need for more crisis housing and opportunities for an improved supply pipeline in co-operation with the private sector, it fails to put focus on the delivery of a massive boost in social housing.

“Urban Taskforce welcomes the recommendation to increase collaboration with the private sector in private sector partnerships to deliver discount to market rental accommodation,” he said. “Offering support for states and local governments to boost housing numbers by assisting in the funding of local infrastructure is critical to delivering more homes and reducing upward pressure on housing prices.”

On committee findings regarding the negative impact of transaction taxes on the workings of the market, Forrest said the Commonwealth will have to take the lead in shifting towards a broader land (or property tax).

“The committee has drawn very clear conclusions opposing the level of fees and charges levied on the production of new homes by state and local governments,” Forrest said. “The so-called developer contributions simply shift the burden of local infrastructure away from state governments and on to new home purchasers.”

Lastly, Forrest said Urban Taskforce welcomes the committee’s findings in relation to the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, and its role in providing affordable housing.

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