Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Senate report supports housing affordability initiatives

The Government welcomes today’s release of the Senate Select Committee on Housing Affordability in Australia report and the committee’s endorsement of several new Government initiatives to combat housing affordability.

The bipartisan report highlights that there is currently a significant problem with housing affordability, driven by both strong demand and limited supply.

The report acknowledges that many of the problems are structural and have developed over many years.

The expected number of new dwellings, or housing starts, for 2007-08 is just 154,000. This is well below the 170,000 housing starts recorded in both 2002-03 and 2003-04.

It is also well below industry estimates that we need to build at least 170,000 new dwellings in 2007-08 alone just to keep up with the housing needs of a growing population.

Many Australians are having trouble finding affordable housing and they are using a growing proportion of their income to keep it.

The report recommends broad-ranging action across planning, land supply and social and community housing.

The Government is concentrating on getting on with the job of implementing $2.2 billion worth of new measures for housing affordability.

The Australian Government’s comprehensive approach to tackling housing affordability includes the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS), First Home Saver Accounts, National Housing Supply Council, and an audit of surplus Commonwealth land that can be made available for new housing.

In addition, the $512 million Housing Affordability Fund aims to lower the cost of building new homes by tackling the critical supply side issues of the length of time taken to bring new houses to sale and the impact of infrastructure charges.

The Fund aims to make housing more affordable by addressing two significant supply-side barriers of holding costs and infrastructure charges.

The Fund will be distributed by direct grants, primarily to local governments, local government associations and State or Territory Governments, through a competitive selection process.

Up to $30 million from the HAF is being used to develop IT infrastructure and software to roll out nationally, electronic development assessment systems and online tracking services to reduce red tape and streamline planning approvals.