Inefficient taxes and charges should be eliminated, local planning and development requirements reviewed and government programs to improve affordability should be reformed to more effectively deliver on objectives, a report into the housing supply problem in Australia has recommended.
Releasing its Housing Supply and Affordability Reform report on Thursday, the Housing Supply and Affordability Reform Working Party says the supply-side of the housing market has not responded effectively to demand in some areas and that there are cases where government policies are exasperating the housing shortage by either stimulating demand or acting as a barrier to supply.
The report says uncertainty, delays and costs surrounding rezoning and approval processes are impacting overall market supply and reducing affordability.
Councils should work to improve the efficiency of these processes, it says, through use of code-based assessments and electronic development assessment as well as through sharing more information about how jurisdictions’ target regimes are applied in relation to housing supply and land release.
The working group also found instances where state and local governments were imposing infrastructure charges on developers and/or purchasers in a manner that lacked consistency, transparency and predictability.
The report has been welcomed by building groups, who have called on the government to respond with decisive action.
Master Builders Australia Chief Executive Wilhelm Harnisch has urged housing ministers around the nation to convert the ‘should do’s’ from the report into the ‘will do’s’.
Graham Wolfe, Chief Executive of Policy and Media for the Housing Industry Association, says if acted upon, many of the recommendations in the report will help address chronic problems facing the industry.
“Housing supply and affordability are serious issues in many parts of Australia, in no small way to due to the disproportionate level of taxation on housing, red and green tape slowing up new supply and constrained access to finance for builders and consumers” Wolfe says.
“It is important that genuine reform of the way housing is treated by all levels of government is undertaken, which will improve affordability and unlock the economic potential of the sector.”
The reports key recommendations are as follows:
- Government’s at all levels ensure planning policy does not interfere with the market’s capacity to provide the type of dwellings that people want to live in at the locations where they want to live
- Jurisdictions reform strata titling arrangements to ensure they do not unduly prevent redevelopment of dwellings that have come to the end of their physical or economic lives
- Jurisdictions improve efficiency of (including the time frames involved in) referrals, development assessment and rezoning processes, especially processes through use of code-based assessments and electronic development assessment as well as sharing more information about how jurisdictions’ target regimes are applied in relation to housing supply and land release
- Infrastructure charges at all levels be efficient, transparent and accountable, predictable, and equitable
- Local councils do not introduce planning and development requirements (e.g. minimum number of car parking spaces per dwelling) that exceed state planning and development requirements unless such requirements are justified on a cost/benefit basis
- Government housing programs aimed at those in need be reformed to better meet target objectives.