Media Release by Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion

States told a partnership means holding up their end of the bargain

During the Housing Ministers meeting in Darwin today Minister for Community Services, Senator Nigel Scullion reiterated the Australian Government’s preparedness to work with the states and territories and said he expected the same from them.

‘Everybody recognises that we can’t comprehensively address housing issues in this country if all levels of Government do not act on the levers available to them.

‘The state and territory Ministers came to Darwin to beat their chests and say they will work in partnership to address housing affordability, but whether they go back home and press their Treasurers to take action on a state front is another matter.

‘I don’t intend to take part in a political blame-shifting exercise, but it needs to be pointed out that the states are able to act to ease housing affordability and they continue to sit on their hands.

‘The meeting heard good discussion of creative ideas such as shared equity schemes, which the states know is being progressed through the Policy and Research Working Group and has been supported by the Australian Government through the CSHA.’

Senator Scullion said states and territories need to pull their weight as the Commonwealth has done all the heavy lifting with regard to housing over the past 10 years:

  • Rent Assistance – $2.3 billion for 2007/08 alone
  • Commonwealth State Housing Agreement (CSHA) around $1 billion per year for the last 10 years.
  • In 2005/06, for every $1 the states and territories contributed, the Australian Government funded $4.

Senator Scullion said the states and territories need to take action to improve housing affordability for home buyers, especially first home buyers. In 2006/07 the states and territories collected nearly $17 billion in housing specific taxes and charges.

‘States and local governments can immediately improve housing affordability by releasing more land for development and by improving planning approval and development processes.

‘State housing authorities need to be more efficient in using the Commonwealth’s $1 billion a year contribution, through the CSHA, to increase housing stock. For example there were 13 less houses in 2004/05 (Australia wide) than there were in 1996/97.

‘State and territory CSHA administration costs increased to $923 million in 2004/05. This means that 98 per cent of the money we give to the states to build public housing is gobbled up by administration.

‘The Commonwealth is looking to the states and territories to play a real and meaningful part in contributing to better housing outcomes for all Australians,’ Senator Scullion said.