Scott Morrison wants to make affordable housing a key priority for this term of government, but Labor has accused him of coming late to the party and offering no more than a "cruel hoax".
The treasurer used a speech to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) on Monday to give a broad outline of the challenges facing the housing market.
He said the real pinch point for Australians is being able to get into the market in the first place, which is affecting many would-be first home buyers.
“While low interest rates may make it easier to pay down a mortgage, they also make it harder to save to get one in the first place,” he said.
He will use a meeting with his state counterparts in December to find ways to make buying a new home easier.
The treasurer told reporters after his speech Labor will say it can be solved by one thing – negative gearing and capital gains tax changes – but he believes it is much more complicated.
“It’s not about any one solution, it’s about having the right package of solutions and that is certainly what this government will be working on as we move forward in this term,” he said.
But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thought there was a simple answer.
“We simply have not been building enough dwellings … that’s been the case for a long time,” he told reporters in Sydney.
Housing Industry Association chief executive Graham Wolfe agreed, saying addressing the challenges very much depends on new housing supply.
“That requires federal leadership on policy direction, strategic planning and a national, whole of government approach to land availability, taxation, infrastructure and workforce capacity,” he said in a statement.
Stephen Albin, head of the UDIA NSW, applauded Mr Morrison’s commitment to remove residential land use planning regulations.
Opposition Leader Bll Shorten said Labor would also applaud Mr Turnbull and his team if they are going to do something to make a difference.
“But it’s a cruel hoax to Australians when … all they’re doing is lecturing the states to do something about it,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Perth.
“It isn’t right when you stand on the balcony of a harbourside mansion, that you lecture Australians ‘just get rich parents’.”
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said housing affordability has been on the agenda of commonwealth, state and territory treasurers, or the Council of Federal Financial Relations, since last October.
“Twelve months have come and gone and nothing has happened on housing affordability except a failed attack on Labor’s reforms to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount,” Mr Bowen said.
But Mr Morrison said Labor’s plans were ill-considered and crashing the economy was not the way to make housing affordable.