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Ken Maher weighs in on Federal Budget announcement

Ken Maher weighs in on Federal Budget announcement


With the release of the Federal Budget yesterday, the Australian Institute of Architects national president, Ken Maher, has welcomed the Government’s inclusions around housing affordability. A topical issue that has long been present in the media, housing affordability was a key component of the Government’s budget, which Maher praises the Treasurer on tackling.

“We commend the Turnbull Government on the comprehensive package to tackle the worsening challenge of housing affordability in Australia. Critically, the measures announced by the Government reach right across the housing spectrum. This budget looks at ways to improve the housing situation of everyone from our homeless and those needing crisis accommodation, right through to public and social housing, first home buyers, affordable rental accommodation and removing the disincentive for pensioners to downsize,” he states.

Despite the welcomed announcement on the housing front, there still remain other key areas that can be seen as a missed opportunity within the architecture, design and construction industries – namely density, design and energy efficiency.

When commenting on the areas not covered by the budget, Maher says, “Regrettably the Government has not taken this package to the next logical step, which is to better manage the quality of the new supply of homes they want to bring online. With tens of thousands of new homes needing to be built every year to keep up with demand, it is vital that we ensure those new residences are energy efficient, that due consideration is given to promoting quality, standardised design principles to address issues of accessibility and to facilitate ageing in place.”

The sentiment around standardised design practices aligns with policy announcements that came from the Victorian Chapter in December 2016 when the Victorian State Government released its Better Apartments Design Standards. Policies continue to be released with little thought to how design can play an integral role across the spectrum of the built environment, from urban planning through to minimum apartment-size mandates.

Maher further comments, “Right around Australia, Australian Institute of Architect members are at the leading edge of designing inspirational housing solutions – from housing the homeless in Sydney, to creating strong new public housing communities in Hobart.”

A possible solution is offered by the National President in the appointment of an Australian Government architect. “Every state and territory in Australia with the exception of Tasmania has now appointed a Government Architect,” Maher says. “With the huge infrastructure and city shaping investments the Turnbull Government has announced tonight, it is imperative that they too look to appoint an Australian Government Architect.”

For further reading, the Institute has outlined points from the budget that are applicable to the architecture profession, read them here.


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