Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Infrastructure and housing approvals reform to drive economic recovery

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister
  • The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Minister for Infrastructure Transport Regional Development and Local Government

Faster approvals of major infrastructure projects and housing developments will help boost construction activity and create jobs under a microeconomic reform package agreed by the Council of Australian Governments today.

Australia cannot afford to have major infrastructure projects and housing developments delayed because of fragmented approvals processes, a lack of clarity about assessment requirements or uncertainty about the status of a project.

Major infrastructure projects with Commonwealth and State funding will benefit from having:

  • one integrated assessment processencompassing all statutory assessments and approvals required by the three levels of Government; and
  • one coordinator responsible for the timely delivery of each major infrastructure project under the nation building programs.

At the moment, approval processes are not integrated and can include zoning amendments, development planning assessment, environment impact assessment, requirements for other permits and licenses, land acquisition and access issues, and Commonwealth Government assessments of Native Title and environmental impacts as well.

Reforms agreed by COAG will speed up approvals, which currently take on average over 2 years (27 months).

Housing development assessments will be streamlined by:

  • Increasing the use of code-based assessment, with a target for increase to be set later this year, by making and harmonising codes for houses, units and commercial developments; and
  • Measuring performance according to the number, type and length of DA, with publication of a report in June 2010.

Code-based assessment allows small-scale, low-impact proposals to be certified by a qualified person. These development applications are processed more efficiently allowing local and State government planning resources to focus on more major developments with greater impact.

Increased code based assessment will cut development assessment time and in turn cut the cost of homes by reducing holding costs faced by developers.

According to the Housing Industry Association, code based assessment can save an average of $6,500 on the cost of building a new home in Sydney and nearly $2,500 in regional NSW.

Reforms to infrastructure and housing developments will accelerate construction and encourage private sector activity as Australia builds its economic recovery.