Australia must do better in the supply of housing – a supply gap that could grow to 600,000 by 2028/29, Treasurer Wayne Swan has warned.
Mr Swan told a Property Council conference in Canberra that the National Housing Supply Council estimates the country’s housing stock is currently short of 178,400 dwellings.
“It seems that the supply of housing in Australia is not as responsive as it could be, and this has been the case for some time now,” Mr Swan said in a prepared speech on Monday.
He said reasons for this supply shortage were impediments created by various regulations, slow planning and zoning processes, and complex, uncertain and time-consuming systems for charging developers for infrastructure.
“In the worst-case scenario, it can take as long as 15 years to proceed from the identification of suitable land to a completed house,” Mr Swan said.
“We can do better than this.”
He said commonwealth and state treasuries and premiers’ departments were now fully engaged in the process of designing reforms to improve the operation of the housing market.
“I’m determined to see the Australian government play a role in reforming the housing market for the long term, embedding better practices in planning and zoning and developer charging,” he said.
Mr Swan reeled off a number of initiatives undertaken by the federal government in its efforts to improve the functioning of the housing market.
These included a $6.2 billion national affordable housing agreement with the states, $5.2 million of stimulus money to build more than 19,300 in public housing stock, and a $512 million housing affordability fund.
This is on top of a national rental affordability scheme that encourages institutional investors to deliver low-cost rental housing, the first-home saver account and a more generous first-home owners grant during the global financial crisis.
The government is also committed to $27.7 billion in urban and regional road infrastructure that will help support housing.
“These are all important steps and they will all contribute to improving the functioning of the Australian housing market and, in particular, the supply of low-cost housing,” he said.