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Australian parliament launches enquiry into housing affordability

Australian parliament launches enquiry into housing affordability


A parliamentary committee has commenced an inquiry into housing affordability and supply in Australia, with a focus on how restrictive planning and zoning measures have affected housing supply.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Tax and Revenue announced last week that it was calling for submissions about how limitations on land and restrictive planning laws, in particular, have affected housing supply across the country.

This will form part of a larger inquiry into the impact of tax and regulatory regimes on price, affordability and supply today as well as into the future.

Australia has had the fourth-fastest house price growth out of the world’s advanced economies over the past 20 years, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The OECD also made note of the high ratio of housing prices to household incomes, pointing to our “unusually high level” of inelasticity in housing as the major driver of this ratio.

“[Australian Bureau of Statistic figures show] total residential private building approvals have decreased 44 per cent across the nation between 2016 – 2020 compared to the previous five-year period,” says Jason Falinski, MP and chair of the committee.

“As a result, home ownership, one of the building blocks of Australian society, has been falling for the last 30 years,” he adds.

“In my view, this represents an urgent moral call for action by governments of all levels to restore the Australian dream for this generation and the ones that follow.”

Submissions to the parliament’s inquiry will be accepted until Monday 13 September 2021 and can be lodged online using a My Parliament account.

The announcement comes as federal Labor decides to abandon its policy to limit negative gearing and halve the capital gains tax deduction.

The Property Council welcomed the move, but it was slammed by the Australian Council of Social Service, which said “both major [political] parties now back regressive tax breaks for housing that promote speculation in the asset we all need – a place to live”.

Labor has promised $10 billion for a future fund that would build 30,000 low-cost houses, including 10,000 affordable homes for the pandemic’s front-line workers who cannot afford to live in the suburbs they service.

While the Morrison government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme has brought 10,000 first-home buyers into the market for each of the past few financial years.

But it’s clear the inquiry wants more from local councils and state governments, hoping they will encourage developers and ease tax burdens on buyers.

According to Domain’s First-Home Buyer Report, to save a 20 per cent deposit for a loan to buy a home in Melbourne at the entry-level price of $631,000 will take a couple six years and one month.

A couple will have to save a year longer still in Sydney, where the entry-level price is $770,000.

The report also finds that the pandemic has sent regional house prices “through the roof”, with a dozen regional areas rising more than 30 per cent in a year.

Further information about the Housing affordability and supply inquiry, including the terms of reference, is available on the Committee’s website.

Late last year, ADR looked at the effect COVID-19 has had on housing affordability across the country.

In 2019, the magazine spoke to architect Timothy Hill on Australia’s affordable housing crisis. The former founding director of Donovan Hill and current founder of Partners Hill said that while architects couldn’t solve all the problems, they did have a role to play in this issue.


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