Earthmoving News, Opinion

CCF QLD calls for greater government control of home building

To meet the housing needs of Australia’s growing population, state governments need to assert more control to get projects moving. Damian Long writes.

The cost of living and housing crisis is dominating the headlines at the moment across the country. It is a symptom of a system under stress exacerbated by poor government policy now and in the past.

There are several initiatives being touted to provide more and cheaper housing for the growing Australian population.

In Queensland, the government’s policy to build a million homes by 2046 is underpinned by:

  •  improving the planning system to deliver more quality homes in the right locations faster than ever before
  •  building on current support options and law reforms to assist renters
  •  support for first home buyers
  •  boosting social housing
  •  providing more funding for service providers and help for vulnerable groups to support ending homelessness.

Whilst these initiatives are headliners, those close to the development industry understand that the issues of providing more homes quicker and cheaper are complex but not insurmountable. The problem is there are years of locked-in red tape and political blockades that need to be unwound and eliminated.

Queensland’s announcement is, and will be, like other announcements across the country, and all will be a double-up of targets set by the federal government. Federal government policy will need to assist each scheme in each state and can’t be developed in isolation.

If we look at the numbers in Queensland, one million homes by 2046 will be approximately 45,400 homes each year.

The Queensland government’s own data for dwelling approvals shows that since 1983 this figure has only been achieved five times.

For 2022 to 2023 there were a total of 35,222 dwelling approvals in Queensland and a 10-year average of 40,284. There is a comparable difference between approvals and completions, but regardless of the dataset the magnitude of the ambition is very high.

People choose different locations to live in for different reasons. These reasons will differ depending on their stage of life. The location and types of housing must consider this.

  • Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to receive the latest news in the earthmoving industry
  • Never miss a great deal and subscribe to our monthly magazine
  • Download a free copy of our latest digital magazine to catch up on the biggest news and developments in the earthmoving industry

The state government must go further than its headlines to achieve its target.

It must take control of state-wide planning and take the decisions for approval of development applications out of the control of local government. Whilst local amenity and environmental impacts must be considered, the planning of housing must be made against the needs of where housing should be located. These considerations must be made in conjunction with overall infrastructure planning.

There are plenty of developments that have been held up for years, and in some cases as much as 20 years, due to local governments’ reluctance to quickly process applications or consider providing visionary infrastructure. Whilst their concerns may be legitimate based on the want of their local constituents or their financial position, this does not help to deliver dwellings fast enough to outstrip demand.

An observation is that the cost of housing is based on the house itself. Queensland is looking at alternative housing products such as modular construction. Whilst these initiatives will help to reduce the cost of the dwelling, the biggest impact will be on everything else that supports the dwelling.

Apart from speeding up the approval process, which will reduce holding and consultancy costs, attention must be given to the balance of the iceberg.

Dwellings cannot be constructed unless supporting infrastructure is in place first.

Infrastructure such as sewerage and water supply, including storage and treatment plants, stormwater and stormwater quality systems, telecommunications, power, roads and other transport infrastructure all need to be built first and contribute to the cost of the dwelling.

Government policy must focus on delivering this infrastructure more productively.

This can be done by addressing productivity in human capital, less rigid specifications that leverage emerging technologies, rationalisation, economies of scale and speed to market. The infrastructure cost should not be borne by the developer who will in turn pass it on to the consumer.

Financial assistance may  take the edge off some of the demand pain points , but it does little to help supply.

Whilst immigration both from overseas and interest remains high and is projected to remain so, I fear the strategies to date are going to miss the mark.

Send this to a friend