Event: Interview with Ros Childs, ABC News Channel
Date: Thursday, 17 August 2023, 12.30pm AEST
Speakers: Ros Childs, host ABC News Channel; Denita Wawn, CEO Master Builders Australia
Topics: National Cabinet, housing supply
Ros Childs, host ABC News Channel: Let’s get more now on the housing agreement that was reached at National Cabinet yesterday. It sets a target of building 1.2 million new homes over five years. That’s a boost of 200,000 homes on the previous target. State and territory leaders have also agreed to work towards harmonising rules that would limit rent rises to once a year. Here’s Denita Wawn who’s CEO of Master Builders Australia. Welcome, Denita. So, what’s your view of this housing deal? Will it help to alleviate the housing crisis?
Denita Wawn, chief executive Master Builders of Australia: Absolutely. Master Builders Australia applauds what was done yesterday. We have been asking for over five years for a resolution of the supply constraints we have in dealing with housing in this country. We need changes to planning, to zoning, to developer charges, to building approval delays and so forth. It’s been the responsibility of the states and territories that has not been met and so the incentive payments that is critical in terms of pushing further reform was very much welcomed by our industry.
Ros: What about the number though? How much will the construction of 1.2 million new homes help to relieve the pressure on the housing market? Is it enough?
Denita: Yes, it is. We’ve estimated that to meet population demand we need to build at least 200-odd thousand homes a year for five years. This gives us an extra boost of 200,000 on top of that. We think that means there is an opportunity there to meet all the population demand requirements but also, importantly, provide some consistency and certainty for the building and construction industry. Because this is not just about homes, it’s about all the infrastructure that’s required around them which provides huge opportunities for our sector.
Ros: And how quickly can these homes be built, Denita? We’ve heard lots of stories from the building industry about how hard it is to get supplies, general delays. So, will these homes be built on time and on budget?
Denita: Well, we’re hoping so. We’ve hit a sweet spot at the moment. We’ve seen massive shortages of labour, massive shortages of supply in part because of COVID but also because of inflation. We’re seeing an opportunity where there is not a huge amount of work, forward work, in the industry. We’ve desperately needed some support through government initiatives and we are ready and willing to ensure that we meet this demand. We have to for the Australian community and certainly continue to encourage people back into the industry or into the industry because there’s a lot of work on over the next five years.
Ros: And how do you guarantee that these news homes go to the people that really need them and where they really need them as well?
Denita: Absolutely, that’s really, really important that we have homes in the right place for the right type of person. And that is why it’s a critical part of the decision yesterday was ensuring that we’re matching population needs with housing needs because we need to look not just going out in the suburbs but up as well and we need to ensure that we’re looking at the whole spectrum from homelessness requirements, from social housing, affordable housing, right through to owner-occupiers. And that is really important that we cover all bases across the country. This is not just a capital city issue, it’s an Australia-wide issue.
Ros: The Prime Minister also announced a package of sensible renters’ rights. How much will the measures included there make life easier for renters because they don’t include rental caps and freezes which is what the Greens were calling for?
Denita: Yes, we at Master Builders disagree with the Greens’ position. We think that would actually constrain with investment in the rental market and would actually be inconsistent with the outcome they are trying to achieve. The balance yesterday was right to give certainty to renters but just as importantly, certainty to investors to have the security that if they invest that they would be able to provide a reasonable return and also ensure that they are being able to maintain those properties as well. So, we had to get the balance on rent and we think that’s been sufficient. So, we ask the Greens now to put aside their concerns around rent and approve the Housing Australia Future Fund. That’s an important part of the puzzle, particularly in relation to community housing. So, we implore all sides of politics to put down the weapons and just create this as a bipartisan approach to resolving our housing crisis in this country.
Ros: Denita Wawn, thank you.
National Director, Media & Public Affairs
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