Housing Body Abolition Draws Mixed Construction Response

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Monday, November 11th, 2013
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The abolition of a body set up to report on housing supply and affordability issues in Australia has drawn mixed reactions from the building industry, with some commentators complaining the move is short-sighted but others saying it provides an opportunity for fresh policy approaches.

The abolition of a body set up to report on housing supply and affordability issues in Australia has drawn mixed reactions from the building industry, with some commentators complaining the move is short-sighted but others saying it provides an opportunity for fresh policy approaches.

As part of measures designed to streamline public sector operations, the government announced on Friday it would abolish the National Housing and Supply Council (NSHC) along with eleven other non-statutory bodies.

The government also said it would amalgamate four further bodies with others and absorb five more into relevant government departments.

Originally set up in May 2008, the NSHC provides an annual State of Supply report on the adequacy of land supply and construction activity relative to national housing requirements which is widely viewed as an authoritative assessment of the state of Australia’s housing supply and demand balance (the most recent report put the national housing shortage at 228,000 dwellings).

Whilst not commenting on the NSHC specifically, the government says many of the bodies to be abolished have outlived original purposes, can be managed within existing departments, or are focused upon areas other than core government priorities.

Property Council of Australia Executive Director Caryn Kakas slammed the announcement, saying the latest move will leave state and federal government’s ‘flying blind’ about housing supply and housing policy, and has called on the government to outline an alternative strategy to work with industry to meet housing demand.

“Far from being ‘past its use-by date’ the National Housing Supply Council is the government’s only insight into Australia’s housing affordability and undersupply problems” Kakas says.

However, Housing Industry Association Executive Director Graham Wolfe says the existing NSHC had lost its way and its abolition provides an opportunity to take a fresh look at the data needed to inform decision makers.

“In its earlier days, the NHSC validated Australia’s housing under supply problems and identified supply side impediments that inhibited the delivery of new homes” Wolfe said. “It had strong industry connections and was able to access and analyse information and data from both industry and federal, state and local government sources.”

“[But] In recent times the NHSC had shifted away from its core housing supply role.”

Outside of housing, the other body of relevance to the building industry set to go is the High Speed Rail Advisory Group – the abolition of is believed to reflect a reduced level of priority attached to this area of infrastructure on the part of the new government.

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