Submission to Inquiry into housing affordability and supply in Australia

Today in The New Daily, Alan Kohler highlights a parliamentary submission by Healthy Housing CRE research leaders, saying the housing system "needs to be thought about comprehensively, and reset from the ground up, free from politics."


From the submission:

Australia needs a housing system that is:

1. Innovative, transformed, and resilient. All Australian households should occupy housing that is affordable and meets their needs in terms of physical condition and suitability. A resilient housing system is one in which new- buildings are diverse, reflecting varied demand cohorts, and is responsive to land supply, emerging design and construction technologies, as well as environmental performance expectations. It is one in which unintended distortions created by speculation are addressed through (rather than fuelled by) the regulatory and taxation systems. It is a housing system with low and falling rates of homelessness, where individuals are not penalised for their tenure choices / outcomes.


2. Socially responsible. It should ameliorate rather than exacerbate social polarisation. Currently, too many Australians live precariously (Hulse, Reynolds and Yates 2014) because of their housing. The most disadvantaged are the more than 100,000 Australians estimated to be homeless each night, a number equivalent to Darwin’s population. Indeed, some regard the homeless as residents of Australia’s 16th city. Indigenous Australians also experience a home ownership rate far below the national norm and are more likely to have their health affected by their housing – especially through overcrowding. Such inequalities are not an inevitable outcome, with Stretton (1970) demonstrating how socially responsible housing systems are also economically productive. Households with access to suitably located affordable housing are more likely to fully engage with the labour market, contributing to the productive capacity of the economy, while also raising future generations of productive Australians.


3. Able to deliver economic productivity dividends. When housing systems work effectively, economic productivity flows from improved mobility and a stronger connection between housing and employment (Maclennan et al, 2018). Policies need to facilitate efficient market performance while offering individuals appropriate choice and flexibility in their housing arrangements (tenure, duration, exit and entry costs, legal protections). This would ease the shortage of key workers in some parts of Australia and allow individuals to take up new employment opportunities, reducing the burden on governments to provide expensive infrastructure.


The submission can be downloaded from https://www.healthyhousing-cre.org/publications


Authors:

  • Professor Andrew Beer, Executive Dean, UniSA Business, University of South Australia | Impact lead, CRE-HH

  • Professor Emma Baker, Professor of Housing Research, University of Adelaide | Deputy Director, CRE-HH

  • Professor Chris Leishman, Professor of Property & Housing Economics, University of South Australia

  • Professor Rachel Ong ViforJ, Professor of Economics, Curtin University | Associate Investigator, CRE-HH

  • Professor Robyn Dowling, Dean of School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney

  • Professor Rebecca Bentley, Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of Melbourne | Director, CRE-HH