New government must tackle housing and infrastructure and avoid population policy pitfalls

07 September 2010

The re-elected Gillard Government now has less than three months to prepare and release an issues paper on population policy which could have profound impacts on cities across Australia, according to the Urban Taskforce. The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said that key reports proposing reforms to Australias housing bottlenecks have also been gathering dust, unreleased, while the Federal Government was in limbo.

We hope a coherent strategy can now be developed that responds to population growth with strong federal infrastructure investment, while at the same time unblocking barriers to new housing development, Mr Gadiel said.


In April, the Council of Australia Government tasked a Housing Supply and Affordability Reform Working Party to report back to the Council by mid-2010 on:


¢ the potential to reform land aggregation, zoning and planning processes;


¢ nationally consistent principles for housing development infrastructure charges;


¢ the merits of measures to ensure greater consistency across jurisdictions, including local governments planning approval processes, in the application of building regulations; and


¢ extending the land audit work to examine ˜underutilised land and to examine private holdings of large parcels of land.


These reports are now overdue, but havent seen the light of day due to the change in prime minister and the recent federal election, Mr Gadiel said.


Mr Gadiel said there should be no further delay on reforming Australias housing bottlenecks.


One of the first orders of business of the new government should be to retrieve these reform proposals prepared for the Council and Australian Governments and publicly release them, Mr Gadiel said.


Labor has also promised to release a population policy issues paper before the end of the year, invite public submissions and finalise a policy by April 2011.


Mr Gadiel said that the forthcoming population policy issues paper would only be constructive if it focused on funding the infrastructure required in our population growth centres.


A population policy that guarantees federal funding for infrastructure in high growth urban areas would be a very positive step, Mr Gadiel said.


However, it would be a serious mistake for any population policy to limit public investment in western Sydney, western Melbourne or the Gold Coast growth corridor out of a misplaced notion that growth can be banished by government decree.


Mr Gadiel said the Gillard Government will need to step-up and accept responsibility for infrastructure costs vital to the development of new urban communities.


“The Prime Minister has questioned whether the infrastructure in western Sydney, western Melbourne or the Gold Coast growth corridor is good enough,” Mr Gadiel said.


“This necessitates federal funding our cities’ major infrastructure requirements as the demand for housing, shopping precincts and new workplaces continues to grow.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


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