Turnbull called on to bring housing into cabinet

Adam Smith 11 July 2016

house and handsIn the wake of the Coalition claiming victory in the Federal Election, the housing industry has demanded a portfolio in the new Turnbull government.

Following eight days of uncertainty following a tight election, the Coalition claimed victory on Sunday after Labor leader Bill Shorten conceded defeat. Counting continues in several close seats, but the Coalition looks to be headed toward a slim majority. The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has used the result to call on the returning government to create a housing portfolio.

"The incoming Commonwealth Government needs to focus on building the new homes for our growing population, meeting the housing needs of our changing demographics, addressing the housing affordability challenges confronting younger generations, supporting the 321,595 businesses that operate across the residential building industry, and importantly, enabling the industry to grow and expand its contribution to the Australian economy,” HIA chief economist Harley Dale said.

Dale said the industry generates more than $160 billion in national GDP each year, while contributing $77 billion in taxes. He suggested the industry’s contribution to the economy necessitated a cabinet portfolio.

"Australia needs a Commonwealth Housing Minister - a senior Minister in cabinet to provide national leadership, to coordinate federal, state and local government housing programs, to guide important industry policy reform nationally, and ensure housing has a front seat in cabinet discussions around taxation reform, national budget repair, infrastructure and workforce development."

Dale went so far as to raise the spectre of a downgrade to Australia’s AAA credit rating should housing not be put on the agenda.

“External rating agencies and organisations like the IMF are watching our economy closely, particularly housing, and are clearly looking for economic focus, leadership and policy reform. Reform is the key; while procrastination could well be the nation’s Achilles heel. A lack of federal focus on housing policy reform increases the chance of a ratings downgrade.”

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