Housing dropped from Infrastructure Australia priority list

The Deputy Prime Minister has provided the new chair of Infrastructure Australia (IA) with a revised Statement of Expectations and it is not good news for housing.

Social Infrastructure

The statement of expectations sets IA’s roles and responsibilities and government infrastructure priorities. These priorities will guide the types of projects considered nationally significant and thus what gets onto the approved infrastructure projects list.

In recent years IA has broadened its focus to social infrastructure, including social and affordable housing. The previous Deputy PM set expectations that IA would consider infrastructure that ‘provides or underpins services that deliver economic and social benefits’ and have ‘an important role in shaping cities that are productive and liveable’.

A Step Backwards

As reported by Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), regrettably, the new statement of expectations removes social infrastructure from the list of priority sectors despite its inclusion in IA’s 2021 Infrastructure Plan, and affordable housing being the most frequently cited infrastructure gap in regional areas.

This is step backwards in efforts to treat housing as essential infrastructure.

Shelter WA

Shelter WA congratulates Infrastructure WA (IWA) for their inclusion of social and affordable housing as a standalone chapter in the Draft State Infrastructure Strategy: Foundations for a Stronger Tomorrow, noting that this was one of the key themes that emerged in the state-wide consultation.

New research out this week estimates that the total cost the current shortage of social and affordable housing in Western Australia is $45.4 million per year, which is predicted to rise to $131 million per year by 2036 if the current under-investment in social and affordable housing persists.

We know that housing affordability and availability is a critical for economic productivity and regional development. Shelter WA encourages IWA to retain social and affordable housing as a key priority area in the final version of the State Infrastructure Strategy, despite the priority shift at the federal level.