Senate Inquiry confirms Australian Housing Affordability Challenge

Shelter WA, the peak body for social and affordable housing in Western Australia, has welcomed the release of the Senate Economic References Committee’s final report following its in-depth inquiry into housing affordability.

Chantal Roberts, Executive Officer of Shelter WA confirmed the report “recognised the significant challenges many Australians are experiencing in securing access to affordable and appropriate housing and put forward a number of well considered recommendations to address this challenge long term”. The report’s forty recommendations are targeted towards the creation of a stable policy environment to address housing affordability challenges in Australia, including affordable home ownership and affordable rental housing. The analysis recommends a combination of high level strategic changes, such as a national affordable housing plan, and greater focus on land supply and taxation arrangements. The report also recommends the need for a greater supply of social housing, and changes to existing funding vehicles such as the National Affordable Housing Agreement and the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. In particular, Shelter WA welcomed the Committee’s adoption of many of Shelter WA’s own recommendations, provided in a written submission and highlighted at the Perth hearing to the Senate Inquiry in November 2014, including:

  • Appointment of a Minister for Housing and Homelessness;
  • Phasing out of stamp duties and a potential transfer to a more efficient tax, such as land taxation;
  • Exploration of the impact of taxation measures, including negative gearing and capital gains reductions, on housing affordability; and
  • Commitment to support a higher overall proportion of public and social housing as a percentage of total housing stock.

It is also encouraging to note the Committee’s support for advocacy peak bodies, such as National Shelter and Homelessness Australia, and its call on the Australian Government to reinstate funding, following the DSS Funding cuts in December 2014. In the context of the handing down of the upcoming Federal and Western Australian Budgets, to be released on 12 May and 14 May respectively, Shelter WA looks forward to continuing the conversation on strategies to address housing affordability with Government.