PLANNING CHANGES ALONE WILL NOT DELIVER AFFORDABLE HOUSING

10 Apr 2018

Labor welcomes the release today of a study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), on the effect of government planning mechanisms on the supply of affordable housing.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

 

PLANNING CHANGES ALONE WILL NOT DELIVER AFFORDABLE HOUSING 

 

Labor welcomes the release today of a study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI), on the effect of government planning mechanisms on the supply of affordable housing.

 

The study has found that a planning incentive scheme adopted by the New South Wales government which relies on “density bonuses”, under which developers get increased floor space in return for provision of affordable housing, have added just 1,300 new affordable homes between 2009 and 2017.

 

The study highlights the failure of the Turnbull government to provide the national leadership required to increase the availability of affordable housing.

 

A new National Housing and Homelessness Agreement was announced by the Turnbull government almost a year ago, and still no agreement has been reached with the states, resulting in ongoing uncertainty in the sector..

 

Federal Labor has long advocated for inclusionary zoning, which has been effective in increasing affordable housing overseas. Labor will take the leadership on this issue and open discussions with the states and territories, with a view to increasing housing stock across the country.

 

The study shows that planning mechanisms alone are insufficient for increasing affordable housing in the absence of additional government funding to subsidise housing for low and very low income households.

 

While the study finds that “inclusionary planning” tools have potential to leverage significant affordable housing supply as has occurred in countries such as the UK and USA, “additional funding or subsidy is usually required to produce homes affordable to those on low and very low incomes.” In short, subsidised housing needs a subsidy.

 

The study also finds that planning system tools for affordable housing supply work best when part of a whole-of-government strategy addressing the spectrum of housing needs.

 

Addressing the whole spectrum of housing needs requires national leadership from a Federal government that has a plan to address housing affordability.

 

The Turnbull government has no such plan, with no Minister for Housing and no commitment to addressing the problem of housing affordability.

 

Since 2013, the Abbott and Turnbull Governments have:

 

  • Refused to reform negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts;

  • Closed the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) that has provided 37,000 new affordable social housing units and was on track to achieve its target of 50,000. NRAS was the first and only supply side subsidy for affordable rental housing for low and very low income households;

  • Scrapped the First Home Saver Accounts Scheme which was helping people save for their first home;

  • Abolished the National Housing Supply Council and the Prime Minister’s Council on Homelessness;

  • Cut $44 million a year in capital funding from homelessness services;

 

In last year’s Budget, the Turnbull government announced a grab bag of unrelated measures including wing-and-a-prayer hopes that planning reform alone will deliver more affordable housing.

 

Labor has a plan to tackle housing affordability by reforming negative gearing and capital gains tax, cracking down on foreign ownership by increasing fees and penalties, banning SMSFs from direct borrowing to invest in housing, securing agreement with the states to introduce uniform vacant property taxes,getting better results from the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement, re-establishing the National Housing Supply Council, re-instating a dedicated Minister for Housing and Homelessness and boosting homelessness support for vulnerable Australians.

 

Labor will have more to say about increasing the supply of affordable rental housing well before the next election.

 

In the meantime the Turnbull government continues to demonstrate its lack of commitment on housing and homelessness, and its incapacity to focus on the real needs of Australians. This is a government consumed by internal division, jockeying for the leadership and a lack of policy direction.

 

TUESDAY, 10 APRIL 2018

Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra