National Housing Supply and Affordability legilslative submission

Grounded is a new advocacy body designed to advocate for Community Land Trusts as a for-purpose development model. Much of the following feedback relates to Karl Fitzgerald’s work at Prosper Australia, where he was the director of research for 17+ years.

National Housing Supply and Affordability Council Bill 2023

Congratulations on the appointment of the council, a reasonable cross-balance between private and public interests.

In terms of the legislative draft, it would be appropriate to re-balance some of the functions with regard to the public interest. Some sections read like a wish list from the property sector.

In Functions, Section 9, the ‘performance of the housing sector’ could be expanded.

Without limiting subsection (1), the Council may consider the following matters when performing its functions: (a) the performance of the housing sector;

Performance could be qualified with regard to their ability to facilitate zoned capacity. Will zoned supply be delivered to the market? Will supply disappear in a falling market? Will any government regulator look at this behaviour? Too often government agencies act as if the property sector are good samaritans without the need to facilitate shareholder responsibility or fiduciary duties.

After 20 years of almost total reliance on housing supply as the panacea to the affordability quagmire, government must look behind the land supply curtain to see how supply is executed and at what cost to the public interest this behaviour enforces.

As a preamble to this point, we include the following from Grounded’s upcoming Federal Budget submission.

Victoria, for example has more than doubled the supply pipeline from 150,000 lots to an average 350,000 lots over the last decade. However, land prices have increased by 64% in real terms over this timeframe. The VPA’s Greenfield land supply 2021 report finds that growth areas such as Hume/ Mitchell have 32 years of short term supply. According to Plan Melbourne, this is more than double the supply required for affordable housing.

However, land prices in Hume are more expensive than neighboring growth areas such as Whittlesea or Wyndham – with supply rates of 17 and 12 years respectively.

According to the Victorian Valuer General, Hume’s vacant home block prices were valued at $400,000, Whittlesea’s $375,000 and Wyndham’s at $318,000.

This suggests that government reliance on the for-profit development model to deliver affordability is misconstrued. Federal funding of $500 million train stations in growth areas only act to inflate surrounding land values. Furthermore, the influence of such infrastructure gifts have not been studied as to their influence on supply rates.

Queensland has the most thorough analysis of land supply on the eastern seaboard, tracking the entire production pipeline through their Residential land supply and development series. They include the statewide gazetting of land (residential lot approvals), through to approvals for headworks, lot completions, statewide and council approved zoned capacity (as yet unbuilt). They also monitor lapsed lot zonings which have not been built out.

Queensland had a higher supply potential per capita with 457,135 dwelling lots in the development pipeline in 2012. By 2022, the broadacre supply was sitting at 402,555 lots in SEQ, with the study scope expanding to include the rest of the state and a total of 607,750 lots.

On current supply to affordability outcomes, Victoria would have to sprawl to Bendigo to have any impact on prices, and even then that would be questionable. Queensland’s Springfield master-planned community is one of the largest in the nation with 43,500 lots available. Despite this, prices have increased by 8.1% per annum in real terms over 19 years of production.

Read Grounded’s full submission, including the need for an actual affordable housing definition.

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