Housing Inquiry – Campbelltown to Karratha

I’ve been at public hearings over the last three days for the Senate Committee inquiry into Housing Affordability. I won’t give running commentaries on all the evidence presented here. Anyone wanting to engage in some online discussion on some policy specifics might want to visit Possum Pollytics, which has a few posts on the topic. One of those pointed to a recent easy to read and fairly short speech on the Reserve Bank’s site which gives not too bad an overview.

Next week the Committee is in Karratha in regional WA, as well as Perth. This should help give a greater insight to the different nature of the affordability problem in different areas. Yesterday the Committee had a hearing at Campbelltown, in Sydney’s south-west. Affordability is a huge problem there – more so than the inner city – but supply of land is not the problem. I suspect people have different understandings when they hear terms like supply and demand (not to mention affordability). The interplay between supply and demand is very complex when it comes to housing affordability, not least because we have a multitude of different housing markets, and a number of wider planning and design issues which impact on it. However, suffice to say that its seems to me that the notion being repeatedly pushing by property developers and related industries that affordability is mostly a supply problem, and increasing the global supply of land for housing will ensure existing demand pressures are reduced is a very simplistic view.

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  1. I’m not sure whether it’d work in WA or NT but what housing affordability problem? Move 200km or more from the coast and you wont have a problem.

  2. When will the transcripts be made available?

    My local newspaper is full of “journalists” reporting on how the local real estate agent thinks house prices are going to grow like they have over the last 10 years for the next 10 years. Clearly this cannot help the situation of affordability.

  3. 11.4.2008


    As a person who has worked towards improving community planning for over 15 years, I know that an honest look at development costs is long overdue. An earnest, multi-faceted inquiry, with evidence based outcomes is long overdue.

    There is far too much hype forcing up the prices. Too much trend towards large homes on small lots. Too much emphasis on luxury, and trying to impress. Far too much neglect of the basic needs of ordinary families.

    The impact of negative gearing by investors is great, both on sales and rents. Heavy real estate promotion of new homes, and auctions of existing homes, force up prices. Real estate agents are winning huge margins at a time when homes are in strong demand, and easy to sell with few overheads.

    There are many vacant homes. Many real estate agents do not manage rentals on furnished homes, so these are not available for short term, or medium term tenants. It should be easier to responsibly rent these places, especially as many people work interstate and overseas on shorter term contracts.

    Developers and real estate agents have strong public relations and lobbying powers promoting land availability problems, and tax-on-costs as the cause of housing affordability problems. It is time to look honestly and publicly at profit margins.

    Housing affordability is a significant social problem we cannot afford to ignore. Owning your own homw is an important aspiration for Australians, This is an investment in place, and a contribution to the atability of community and society.

    If ‘supply and demand’ is not working – and it clearly they are not – government involvement, based on widely gathered evidence, is urgently required.

    Let’s hope we can all share the information, and results of this timely inquiry.


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