Housing affordability is the "barbeque stopper" issue of our time. Young couples wonder how they’ll ever get off the rental treadmill and into that first home. Mums and Dads sweat every month on what the Reserve Bank will do with interest rates. And let's not forget our homeless population and the massive waiting lists for social and community housing.
State Governments are a primary driver of affordable housing - they write the planning laws, levy property taxes and create the business climate for new construction. Right now, the most obvious cause of price pressures is the shortage of supply - with Sydney, for example, estimated to be about 100,000 homes short. NSW has among the lowest rate of new housing construction starts anywhere in Australia.
On Tuesday February 12, I hosted a Housing Affordability Summit at Parliament House. We attracted a great lineup of speakers including Dr Andrew Charlton, Mark Bouris and many experts in business, unions, the property sector and local government.
The questions we asked: what are the key steps to break the housing deadlock in NSW? Are the current tax and grant incentives right? What innovative new investment and financing methods are available to grow supply? How can we streamline planning processes and reduce construction costs?
And how can we build not just more homes – but the right kind of homes. Affordable housing – not just on the city outskirts but in Sydney’s inner and middle suburbs. That means quality townhouses and medium density apartments.
Read my speech to the summit. Tell me what you think. And stay tuned as Labor develops its housing policy ahead of the 2015 election.