About UDIA

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) seeks to create awareness that national prosperity is dependent on our success in housing our communities and building and rebuilding cities for future generations. It is the peak body representing the property development industry throughout Australia. Its members cover a wide range of specialist and industry fields, including: Developers, Valuers, Planners, Engineers, Architects, Marketers, Researchers, Project Managers, Surveyors, Landscape Architects, Community Consultants, Environmental Consultants, Lawyers, Sales and Marketing Professionals, Financial Institutions, State and Local Government Authorities, and Product Suppliers.

©2019 The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA)

NEWS

 

STAMP DUTY RIPE FOR ABOLITION

13 February 2020

A new push to reform taxes - including a switch from stamp duties to more broad-based measures such as land tax - has been welcomed by the nation’s housing industry.

 

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National says the abolition of stamp duty should serve as a cornerstone of any tax reform agenda.

 

“Stamp duty is one of the most inefficient taxes in our economy and acts as a substantial barrier to home ownership,” said UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk.

 

“Stamp duty hurts people trying to enter the housing market, families moving into bigger houses as they grow and seniors looking to downsize later in life.

 

“It is a particularly punitive tax for first home buyers and adds to the challenge of saving for a deposit.

 

“State governments have become overly dependent on stamp duties to sustain their budgets, despite it being a volatile tax that ebbs and flows with housing cycles.

 

“We appreciate any substantial tax reform is a long-haul exercise, but it is time for governments to start planning for a switch from stamp duties to more broad-based measures such as land tax.

 

“An overhaul of property taxes is well overdue given the excessive burden carried by the industry and homebuyers.

 

“Governments can also seize the opportunity to reform other inefficient and inequitable taxes such as the plethora of infrastructure charges that get built into the cost of a new home.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

UPTICK IN LENDING NEEDS TO BE MATCHED WITH SUPPLY

11 February 2020

A jump in the value of new loan commitments suggests access to credit is beginning to improve but it needs to be matched with supply increases, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

New data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a 4.4 percent increase in the value of new loan commitments for housing in December last year.

 

Notably, the number of loan commitments to owner-occupier first home buyers recorded a 6.2 percent increase.

 

“We are starting to see evidence of a sustained increase in new loan commitments – which is a positive sign for homebuyers seeking access to credit,” said UDIA National Executive Connie Kirk.

 

“The combination of more sensible lending standards and lower interest rates has given homebuyers a better opportunity to crack the market.

 

“The challenge now is to ensure we have a balanced housing market in which the approvals and construction pipeline meets the build-up in buyer demand.

 

“There are hints of a lift in housing approvals data but construction pipelines are currently thin and the risk is we see a mismatch between supply and demand re-emerge.

 

“Housing construction has the dual benefit of giving the broader economy a positive boost given it adds jobs, wages, and activity up and down supply chains.

 

“We also need to see the Commonwealth and states work in partnership to accelerate land release – both via smart land use off the back of infrastructure investment and fixing inefficient planning systems.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

APPROVALS NEED TO KEEP LIFTING TO SATISFY DEMAND

3 February 2020

Tentative signs that housing approvals have stabilised are encouraging but need to be balanced against the wide gaps that still exists between supply and demand, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National.

 

New housing approval data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today suggests the long slide in approvals may be over.

 

However, approvals remain well below the peak of two years ago and out of synch with overall demand.

 

“Any signal that we have seen the floor on housing approvals is a welcome one, but we’ve still got a long way to go,” UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk said.

 

“They remain 20 percent where they were this time last year and the economy desperately needs to see approvals lift to meet buyer demand, improve affordability and provide a boost to the economy.

 

“New housing construction is crucial to the nation’s economic trajectory – providing jobs up and down the supply chain, as well as boosting wages and consumer confidence.

 

“The other feature of the data is how patchy any hint of a recovery remains, with some states still in decline and different trends between greenfield and brownfield markets.

 

“We need to see any gains on approvals sustained for a period and converted into commencements, as well as improved access to credit for homebuyers.

 

“The Government’s first home owners deposit gap scheme has the capacity to solve part of the problem, but a full-throated effort across planning, regulatory and tax systems is needed to fix housing markets.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

NEW HOME LOAN DEPOSIT GAP SCHEME WELCOMED

1 January 2020

The nation’s housing industry has welcomed the commencement of a new scheme to help close the home loan deposit gap for first time homebuyers.

 

The Commonwealth Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme provides a guarantee to allow eligible buyers to purchase a home with a deposit as low as five percent – rather than 20 percent.

 

The initiative opens to potential applicants today and is expected to see as many as 10,000 people a year assisted.

 

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National has welcomed its commencement.

 

“Saving for a deposit is one of the biggest hurdles to home ownership so efforts to bridge the divide are a clear plus,” UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk said.

 

“In our major capital cities, it can take homebuyers anywhere from 8 to 12 years to save the money needed to achieve a 20 percent deposit required by banks to access a loan.

 

“The deposit gap scheme shaves years – and the cost of mortgage insurance – off that task because the Government is going to serve as guarantor.

 

“The scheme will be crucial at a time when house prices are again beginning to rise and risk escalating further given the lack of adequate supply coming through the system as construction tails off.

 

“We also hope the Government keeps the scope of the scheme under review and looks at whether it is sufficiently motivating new stock being built and reflects house prices and incomes in major capital cities.

 

“The initiative needs to be viewed as part of the solution to fixing housing affordability – with increased supply via improvements to land release and approval systems another focus area.

 

“We also need to see governments turn their attention to reducing red and green tape, as well as excessive property taxation, that gets baked into the cost of new housing.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

LENDING PANEL FOR DEPOSIT GAP SCHEME WELCOMED

12 December 2019

Formation of a lending panel to sustain the new national deposit gap scheme is a positive sign for

homebuyers preparing for its commencement in January, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National.
 

The Commonwealth Government has today announced a panel of 25 non-major lenders, as well as the Commonwealth Bank, to offer guaranteed loans under the scheme.
 

The Commonwealth Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme provides a guarantee to allow

eligible buyers to purchase a home with a deposit as low as five percent – rather than 20 percent.

“Building a competitive panel of lenders to service homebuyers looking to access the scheme is a great sign,” UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk said.
 

“The diversity of the panel will allow homebuyers to shop around and find the right mortgage product that suits the needs of the 10,000 expected participants.
 

“Establishing a mix of large and small lenders with a good geographic spread gives a wide range of buyers better opportunities to access the scheme.
 

“In our major capital cities, it can take homebuyers anywhere from 8 to 12 years to save the money needed to achieve a 20 percent deposit required by banks to access a loan.
 

“The deposit gap scheme shaves years – and the cost of mortgage insurance – off that task because the Government is going to serve as guarantor.
 

“The scheme will be crucial at a time when house prices are again beginning to lift and risk escalating further given the lack of adequate supply coming through the system as construction tails off.
 

“We also hope the Government keeps the scope of the scheme under review and looks at whether it is sufficiently motivating new stock being built and reflects house prices and incomes in major capital cities.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

ANNOUNCING NEW PRESIDENT FOR UDIA NATIONAL – SIMON BASHEER

28 November 2019

Following its annual general meeting in Canberra earlier this week, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA National) has announced its new President for a two-year term, Mr Simon Basheer.

 

Mr Basheer has served on UDIA National’s Board for 10 years. He also served as a member of the UDIA NSW Council for 8 years and was the NSW President in 2012-14.

 

Simon Basheer has more than 30 years’ experience in the development industry, holding several senior Marketing and General Management positions across several states since he first joined the industry in 1987. He is currently General Manager, Sales for the Australian Residential business at Lendlease.

 

“I am very much looking forward to my term as President of UDIA National and I thank the Board for entrusting me with the important role of leading the implementation of our strategy on behalf of our members,” says Mr Basheer.

 

“With a lifelong career in this space, I’m passionate about the development industry and the responsibility that developers have in their profession, to their customers and the contribution our industry makes to the economic prosperity of our nation.

 

“Australia’s urban development industry is at a critical juncture, with dwelling approvals and commencements continuing to trend lower and moving towards levels not seen for the best part of a decade. If this continues, the lack of approvals in the development pipeline will ultimately create a dwelling supply issue, fuelling another round of housing affordability pressure in Australia,” he says.

 

As part of its National Policy Priorities for 2020, a key strategic document launched in Canberra on Monday, UDIA National will continue to advocate for measures that will re-balance the supply equation for the development industry and focus on the impediments that create supply blockages, working to remove the barriers to efficient housing delivery in Australia.

 

“With new housing and construction contributing close to 7.5% of Australia’s GDP and employing 750,000 people directly and indirectly, the role of urban development has never been more important to our economy,” says Simon Basheer.

 

“Our National Policy Priorities for 2020 include five key recommendations. These goals are within reach and will help ensure Australia stays ahead of the curve on fixing housing affordability, and ultimately, building a better Australia.”

 

A key immediate focus for UDIA National is to actively contribute to the Federal Government’s review of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, which is currently impeding development.

 

It will also work closely with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC) in the implementation of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and support its mandate to deliver research and housing forecasts.


UDIA National will also continue to advocate in relation to simplifying the complex and burdensome approval and taxation regimes at the Federal, State and Local Government levels, which impact housing supply and affordability.

 

“Our National Board has just spent two days in Canberra meeting with several politicians and Departments on our key policy priorities and we look forward to active dialogue with all sides of government moving forward.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

EPBC REVIEW CAN FULFIL PROMISE OF STREAMLINED ASSESSMENT

29 October 2019

The original promise of a single, streamlined environmental assessment for major projects is within reach, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The Commonwealth Government has today announced details of its proposed review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The review has been welcomed by UDIA’s National Executive Director Connie Kirk.

 

“The Government has sensibly prioritised the removal of needless red tape and the review has the potential to reduce regulatory costs that are baked into the price of new housing,” Ms Kirk said.

 

“The EPBC Act has not fully delivered on its stated objective of having a single point of assessment. We instead live in a world where major projects are faced with double or triple jeopardy via separate environmental assessments at federal, state and local government.

 

“The inconsistent and incoherent rules placed in front of proponents have stalled projects, cut housing supply and baked additional red tape costs into homes that squeeze through the system.

 

“The industry fully believes in the value of a well-designed legislative and regulatory system to preserve nationally-significant flora and fauna.

 

“However, there is an overwhelming case to ensure environmental assessments are conducted at the appropriate time in the development cycle to provide certainty.

 

“There are clear goals that should define the review and are consistent with the Government’s objective of reducing excessive red tape and costs.

 

“These include establishing a timeline for completing outstanding bilateral agreements and strategic assessments, as well as updating existing bi-lateral agreements.

 

“We also need to see an audit of progress against the ‘one-stop shop’ premise that underpins the EPBC Act and absorbing lessons from existing processes which work well.”

 

Other priorities for the review include:

 

  • Resolving flaws in the process of strategic bio-certification to remove delays

  • Considering statutory timeframes for responding to applications

  • Producing a simpler and more effective regime for offsets

  • Lifting the quality, consistency and transparency of guidance

  • Ensuring proposed listings of matters of national environmental significance are underpinned by clear evidence and science.

 

“The review will fit neatly with the Commonwealth’s broader focus on housing affordability if it seizes the opportunity to reduce needless red tape and costs in new home production,” Ms Kirk said.

 

“That is why we would also urge the Government to ensure the review canvasses the level of cost recovery imposed on proponents.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

RBA RIGHT TO CALL OUT RISKS FROM SLIDING HOUSING ACTIVITY

17 October 2019

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is right to put a spotlight on risks to the economy and housing affordability from a continued slide in construction, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The RBA’s Deputy Governor Guy Debelle has today used a speech to point to a ‘sizeable downturn’ across the housing construction sector.

 

“The alarm bells have been ringing for some time on the continued slide in housing approvals and construction,” says Connie Kirk - UDIA’s National Executive Director.

 

“The dual effects will be a drag on the economy that the RBA estimates could trim as much as one percent of the nation’s GDP and a worsening story on affordability.

 

“We now face the prospect of supply softening at a time when access to credit begins to ease, demand lifts and in select market, prices return to an upward trajectory.

 

“Homebuyers who witnessed one cycle of escalating price rises a few years back now must wonder if the gap between supply and demand will again leave them locked out of the housing market.

 

“New housing construction is crucial to the nation’s economic trajectory – providing jobs up and down the supply chain, as well as boosting wages and consumer confidence.

 

“We need a full-throated effort from all tiers of government to remove the impediments to housing construction.

 

“This includes more focus on removing the planning and regulatory barriers that stifle new projects, as well as the inefficient and inequitable taxes and charges imposed on new housing.” 

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

OMINOUS SIGNS AS DWELLING APPROVALS KEEP FALLING

9 October 2019

The continued slump in new dwelling approvals presents risks to housing affordability and economic growth, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

New dwelling approvals data released today show they have now fallen for 21 consecutive months and are now in the negative on trend terms across every state and territory.

 

“The ongoing slide in dwelling approvals is an ominous sign for economic growth and housing affordability,” said UDIA National Executive Connie Kirk.

 

“Housing development pipelines continue to thin and risk leaving homebuyers exposed to a market in which the mismatch between supply and demand widens.

 

“Homebuyers have already suffered through one cycle in which housing affordability reached crisis point – and don’t want to see a repeat.

 

“The other element of slowing approvals is the knock-on effect on the economy, given housing construction adds jobs, wages, and activity up and down supply chains.

 

“The banks now have a role to play in responding to the efforts of regulators in easing access to housing credit and applying a sensible regime for assessing home loan applications.

 

“We also need to see the Commonwealth and states work in partnership to accelerate land release – both via smart land use off the back of infrastructure investment and fixing inefficient planning systems.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

RATE CUT NEEDS TO BE MATCHED BY MORE LENDING

1 October 2019

The latest cut to interest rates will need to be matched by more sensible lending rules to have the desired effect of stimulating the economy, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The Reserve Bank’s decision to lower the official cash rate to 0.75 percent has been welcomed by UDIA’s National Executive Director Connie Kirk.

 

“The latest cut to the official cash rate is a clear signal that underlying economic conditions are soft and we need to rev up activity,” Ms Kirk said.

 

“However, the cheaper credit is not flowing to potential homebuyers given the banks are continuing to apply a frugal approach to lending.

 

“Housing industry leaders have been making it clear for months now that housing credit is difficult to access and home loan assessments are a tortuous process.

 

“A measured approach to loan assessments is always sensible but right now the balance is tilted too strongly against homebuyers.

 

“New housing construction is crucial to the nation’s economic trajectory – providing jobs up and down the supply chain, as well as boosting wages and consumer confidence.

 

“The risk right now is that development pipelines are thinning, housing approvals remain low and the drag on economic growth will remain.

 

“The other medium-term risk is that the mismatch between supply and demand quickly re-emerges, which has consequences for housing affordability.

 

“Likewise, we’d urge banks to pass on the full rate cut as the economy is clearly in need of every extra bit of juice available.” 

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

NATIONAL POPULATION PLAN A CRITICAL NEW POLICY TOOL

23 September 2019

Australian cities and regions will be able to better plan for the economic and social dividend of growth with the launch of a new National Population Plan, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The Commonwealth Government has today announced details of its National Population Plan, building on the recent creation of a new Centre for Population Growth and changes to the migration program.

 

The initiative has been welcomed by UDIA’s National Executive Director Connie Kirk.

 

“Immigration and population growth have been an essential ingredient of the modern Australian story, adding to the nation’s collective prosperity,” Ms Kirk said.

 

“Our population will keep growing so we need to stay ahead of the task of understanding its implications.

 

“A clear national plan that includes rolling short and long-term forecasts, maps settlement patterns and informs land use, housing, infrastructure and service delivery is crucial.

 

“We can also use the opportunity to open a stronger dialogue with the community around the trajectory and consequences of change that can create stronger, more prosperous cities and regions.

 

“A major plus of the plan is it leans on the states to help inform settlement patterns and then structures the migration and visa program to meet workforce needs.

 

“This should means the states are better placed to deliver on the land use, infrastructure and housing needed to sustain known rates of growth.

 

“Migrants have always brought skills, workforce capability, wages, tax revenue, diversity and improved productivity to the table.

 

“The new National Population Plan shows a willingness to harness these assets and tie them to a population policy framework that enhances the national economy.” 

 

Population is one of UDIA’s key policy platforms and was included in the National Policy priorities for the new Government launched in June this year and can be accessed at www.udiapriorities.com.au

 

More information:

Centre for Population
National Population Plan

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

HOUSE PRICE DATA SHOWS RECOVERY LONG WAY OFF

17 September 2019

The latest house price data, detailing a fall across capital cities, shows any potential recovery in housing markets is yet to gather real momentum, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics quarterly house price data released today showed the weighted average house price fell 0.7 percent in the June quarter.

 

“The pricing data can be a lagging indicator but shows we still have a long way to go before any sustained recovery is achieved,” said UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk.

 

“At best, they paint the picture of a stabilising market in our major capital cities and suggest the worst of the decline is behind us.

 

“What we do know is that any hint of a recovery in pricing will take time to gain traction and there is no evidence at all yet of a lift off in pricing for new housing products.

 

“Until any increase in prices for established housing is replicated in the new home market there is unlikely to be a pick up in construction activity needed to boost the economy.

 

“Recent moves to cut the official cash rate and ease loan serviceability assessments will take time to flow through the system, particularly if banks keep a tight leash on lending regardless.

 

“No one wants to see rocketing increases again, but a sensible and sustainable trajectory on house prices is needed to drive activity, construction, jobs and affordability.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

DEPOSIT GAP SCHEME OPENS THE DOOR TO HOME OWNERSHIP

12 September 2019

The introduction of legislation giving effect to the Commonwealth Government’s deposit gap scheme is the first step in easing the pathway to home ownership, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The scheme – promised on the eve of the federal election – helps reduce barriers to home ownership by closing deposit savings requirement and effectively reducing mortgage insurance costs.

 

The UDIA’s National Executive Director Connie Kirk has welcomed introduction of the legislation and said the next critical step was getting design features right.

 

UDIA has been actively engaging with the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation (NHFIC), which has carriage of the scheme’s design, implementation and ongoing management.

 

“The scheme rightly recognises that saving for a deposit is arguably the biggest hurdle most homebuyers face in trying to enter the market,” Ms Kirk said.

 

“The rapid escalation in house prices in the past decade has widened the deposit gap, so the Commonwealth’s decision to effectively go guarantor on a portion of the loan makes sense.

 

“It sits well alongside other initiatives to improve housing affordability – like retention of negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements, and improved loan serviceability assessment rules.

 

“The next challenge is to ensure the design principles of the scheme reflect the reality of house prices in different markets.

 

“The draft legislation proposes variable price caps for different capital cities and regions, which is a perfectly logical step.

 

“We would also urge however that the same flexibility apply to income thresholds, particularly in the most expensive capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

 

“Our research shows that singles in particular on the proposed income threshold of $125,000 would not be able to access housing in large tracts of Sydney and Melbourne.

 

“The other recommendation we would make is to limit access to the scheme to newly-constructed properties, which has the benefit of spurring construction activity at a time the economy needs a boost.”

 

Ms Kirk also welcomed provisions in the legislation to expand the mandate of NHFIC to examine housing supply, demand and affordability.

 

“The renewed research capacity will give the Government deeper insights into the policy barriers to improved housing production and better affordability,” Ms Kirk said.

 

UDIA National looks forward to working further with Government on the precise design of the new mandate for NHFIC.

 

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

SKILLS SHORTAGE THREATENS INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY AND THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY

6 September 2019

With the Australian economy growing by just 1.4% in the year to June, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) is urging the Government to bring forward its planned spend on infrastructure to help bolster the economy and ensure that Australia’s national migration policy addresses the skills shortage that is hampering infrastructure delivery.

 

“We welcome the announcement that the Government is reviewing its skilled migration occupation list and we call on the Government to ensure this review specifically addresses the skills shortage that is threatening infrastructure delivery,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“In the recent Infrastructure Australia Audit, this skills shortage was highlighted as being one of the greatest threats to the delivery of infrastructure. 

 

“Without this issue being addressed head on, the opportunity to support the economy through speeding up the pace of infrastructure delivery is directly hampered.”

 

With migration numbers at their lowest level in a decade, UDIA is also urging the Government to reconsider the cap it is has placed on migration at 160,000 people per year for the next four years.

 

“Ensuring more migrants enter with the right skills to help deliver infrastructure projects and making sure that those already in the sector receive the right training, are critical issues that need to be addressed, if we are to bolster our weak economy through a faster pace of infrastructure delivery,” says Connie Kirk.

 

“The Government’s promised $100 billion spend on much-needed infrastructure also needs to be brought forward to help support weak economic growth,” says Connie Kirk.

 

“Only $30 billion of this total amount is planned to be spent in the next four years, so we firmly believe the pace of infrastructure delivery needs to be faster. Infrastructure improves the liveability of our cities and has a huge positive impact on our economy, through jobs creation, spend on materials and services and improved productivity, through reduced congestion.”

 

UDIA National’s post-election action plan entitled ‘Building A Better Australia’ outlines six policy priorities which are aimed at linking population, cities, infrastructure, housing, tax and regulation planning for greater economic growth. 

 

UDIA’s population and infrastructure priorities are as follows:

 

  • Getting population planning and migration policy settings right to ensure we have skilled workers living and working in the areas we need to support our economic growth and delivery of crucial infrastructure.

  • Creating a bi-partisan Infrastructure Accord to deliver certainty for cohesive long-term planning and delivery.

  • Reducing red tape to expedite planning and infrastructure delivery.
     

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

DIVE IN DWELLING INVESTMENT HURTS ECONOMY

4 September 2019

National accounts data shows the continued slump in dwelling investment is acting as one of the main drags on the economy, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The quarterly accounts show investment in new and used dwellings fell six percent for the June quarter – with a 10.9 percent fall over the past 12 months.

 

All states and territories bar Tasmania recorded falls in dwelling investment.

 

“Housing construction is a make-or-break element of our economy - given it spurs jobs, wages and supply chain activity right across the economy,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“The national accounts show the weak approvals and commencement data we’ve been witnessing over the past two years, are now acting as a drag on the economy.

 

“Whatever tentative movement we are seeing on house prices is yet to translate into a renewed round of construction that can deliver the homes, jobs and economic growth the economy needs.

 

“There is a clear case for accelerating reforms that can trigger more confidence, investment and activity in a sector crucial to the health and strength of the broader national economy.

 

“It is a fundamentally good thing that our economy is still enjoying growth when other major economies are sliding – and there is optimism that tax cuts and lower interest rates will feed into the system.

 

“However, there is a need to pull every policy lever available to ensure the economic rebuilds momentum - and housing construction is vital,” says Connie Kirk.

 

In June this year, UDIA National released a post-election action plan entitled ‘Building A Better Australia’ that outlines six policy priorities across population, cities, infrastructure, housing, tax and regulation.

 

The priorities are:

 

  • Entrench the emerging new policy framework to get population settings right

  • Create a Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Accord to deliver long-term certainty in planning and delivery

  • Audit the current infrastructure pipeline to assess opportunities for unlocking land use

  • Properly design and fund the new mandate on housing supply, demand and affordability

  • Identify short, medium and long-term steps to reform and strip back taxes on new housing

  • Commence a review of environmental planning laws to reduce red tape.
     

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

KEEP UP REFORM OF BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS 

3 September 2019

The implementation of reforms to building and construction standards needs to be aggressively advanced, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

Speaking following a meeting of construction industry leaders in Brisbane yesterday, UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk said the Shergold-Weir report on building standards provided a sound framework.

 

“There is a clear and compelling case to lifting standards, offering clarity to professionals working across the construction industry and rebuilding consumer confidence,” says Connie Kirk.

 

“The Shergold-Weir report provided a framework to guide governments, regulators and the industry through the reform process.

 

“The most recent meeting of the Building Ministers Forum in July offered hope that a serious effort would be taken to improve building standards via better compliance and enforcement.

 

“We now need to see progress on the reform agenda, otherwise we risk being left with a patchwork response that undercuts consumer confidence,” she says.

 

“The bulk of the legislative and regulatory heavy-lifting will fall to the states and territories, but we need every tier of government to maintain a focus on driving change.

 

“The vast bulk of developers do the right thing and want to be partners to reform, and ensure we close the door to bad apples that fail to act in good faith and deliver the quality product that consumers expect.”

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

HOUSING APPROVAL DATA RINGS ALARM BELLS

31 August 2019

A continued slump in building approvals data should ring alarm bells on the need to move swiftly on reforms to boost housing production and economic growth, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

Figures released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics this week show building approvals fell by 9.7 percent in July and are now down by approximately 30 percent in the past 12 months.

 

“The improved sentiment from the election outcome, interest rate cuts and changes to lending standards is yet to translate into activity on the ground,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“Every home not being built is a lost opportunity to stimulate economic growth, generate jobs and boost supply chain effects that wash through the entire economy.

 

“There is a dual risk – we see a further weakening of economic activity at a time when it is desperately needed, and housing markets once again see an imbalance between supply and demand, which feeds into prices.

 

“The slump in building approvals is a clear signal that there is no time to waste in advancing policy reforms that can lift the pace and scale of new housing construction.

 

“The commitment to help close the deposit gap for homebuyers has to be designed in a way that broadens access and removes barriers to participation.

 

“The states also need to play a role in stripping back excessive taxes and charges, red tape and complex planning regimes that suppress investment and stall projects,” says Connie Kirk.

 

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

BUILD TO RENT CAN ALLEVIATE HOUSING AFFORDABILITY ONCE IT IS SUPPORTED BY GOVERNMENT POLICY 

31 August 2019

Build to Rent can play a crucial role in alleviating Australia’s housing affordability crisis but requires more active support from federal and state governments, according to The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA). 

 

During a presentation to the National Housing Conference in Darwin this week, UDIA’s National Executive Director Connie Kirk outlined the steps needed to make Build to Rent a more substantial component of the Australian housing mix.

 

Build to Rent projects are institutionally funded, purpose designed and built, and take advantage of scale to benefit customers via efficiencies, professional management and excellent service.

 

“The Build to Rent model has proven to be a successful housing option for renters in the USA and the UK and it can have significant benefits in Australia,” Ms Kirk said.

 

“Build to Rent homes now account for 16% of the rental market in the USA, with the model delivering 6.3 million apartments since 1992. The strength of the sector in the largest global real estate market is proof that Built to Rent works.

 

“In the UK, the model has grown steadily over the past ten years and is now the second largest form of tenure. It is attractive to investors for its stable and long-term returns.

 

“An essential feature of its growth in overseas markets has been the active commitment by governments to deploy policy levers that helped seed the new market.

 

“For Build to Rent to succeed in Australia the playing field has to be levelled by relaxing the taxation regime for Managed Investment Trusts (MITS). That way international capital, which can fund projects, is then taxed at the same rate as investment in office or retail projects.

 

“Additionally, at the Federal level it requires changes to enable a re-claim on the GST component of construction, and at the State level resolving issues around land tax aggregation.

 

“There are some tentative first steps being taken by pioneering companies to trial Build to Rent in Australia, and in some cases, match it with affordable housing solutions.

 

“However, the pace of the market’s evolution will depend on our ability to attract a deeper pool of institutional investors to the table that take comfort in the liquidity of the market.

 

“Build to Rent has the potential to deliver on several important public policy objectives, including providing more housing diversity, enhanced building standards and a better managed, more secure form of private rental housing for tenants,” Ms Kirk said.

 

UDIA National says that Australia can take some valuable lessons from both the UK and north American experiences including

  • Delivering housing policies which support the development of the entire Build to Rent sector

  • Providing appropriate planning concessions which considerthe unique features of the Build to Rent model

  • Ensuring tax regimes enable and support institutional investment in the sector including the treatment for inward investment, goods and services tax provisioning and aggregated land tax considerations. 

 

“It is only with these changes that the Build to Rent model can reach its full potential in Australia to deliver a mix of across the housing spectrum,” said Ms Kirk.

 

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

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INFRASTRUCTURE AUDIT A CALL TO ACTION

13 August 2019

The case for overhauling the planning, funding and delivery of infrastructure to meet the needs of modern, growing cities is the stark lesson of Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Audit.

 

The Urban Development Institute of Australia’s National Executive Director Connie Kirk has welcomed the report as a frank assessment of the current deficiencies in the system.

 

“The alarm bells are ringing loudly about the nation’s capacity to deliver the infrastructure needed to underpin productive and liveable cities,” Ms Kirk said.

 

“Population growth, demographic trends, technology and densification are fueling a radical transformation of our cities that is well underway and will continue to accelerate.

 

“However, the economic, social and environmental infrastructure that communities expect is lagging and we risk falling so far behind the curve that the gap will be unsustainable.

 

“The Government has unveiled some positive initiatives to plot a better way forward – new population forecasts, increased infrastructure pipelines and sharper analysis of housing supply and demand.

 

“These represent a sound first step but there is clear demand for an aggressive wave of reforms to lift infrastructure above politics and better connect land use, population growth, settlement patterns, housing supply and infrastructure delivery.

 

“This also requires a sharpened focus by the states and local government on responding to the issues raised by the report and working in smarter ways to respond to community needs.

 

“Policy inertia carries twin risks – failing to respond to the RBA’s call for a short-term stimulus to economic activity via infrastructure spending, and leaving our cities exposed to congestion in the long-term.”

 

UDIA National’s Policy Priorities released in June contains a suite of recommendations to fix the approach to infrastructure, including:

 

  • An Infrastructure Accord that would insulate project identification, funding and delivery of significant infrastructure projects from partisan politics

  • Ensuring the business case for all major projects includes analysis of land use and housing opportunities to maximise the benefit of investment

  • Referencing the Priority List established by Infrastructure Australia as the baseline for decisions on prioritisation

  • Using the proposed new population forecasts to better inform strategic land use and infrastructure plans at a national, state and local level

  • Better assessing trunk infrastructure requirements needed to unlock housing opportunities that emerge from major transport projects

  • Providing financial incentives to the states to fund key infrastructure, including asset recycling and broadening the tax base

  • Reform the current mix of taxes, charges and levies imposed on new housing that both fail to provide new infrastructure and add to the housing affordability challenge. 

 

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

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WEAK BUILDING APPROVALS REMAIN AN ECONOMIC DRAG

30 July 2019

The economic drag from weak building approvals data will continue to weigh on the economy and underline the need for strong policy solutions to lift housing construction, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

Figures released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics today show building approvals fell by 1.2 percent in June on seasonally-adjusted terms – with the year-on-year decline now running at more than 25 percent.

 

The trend series for total dwellings has now fallen for 19 consecutive months.

 

“Weak building approvals will continue to act as a drag on economic growth for the short to medium term,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“The thin approvals pipeline will exaggerate effects across housing construction markets and supply chains, employment and broader economic growth so desperately sought by policy makers.

 

“We need to ensure every available policy lever is being pulled in favour of investment, jobs, wages and construction activity.

 

“There is optimism that the Reserve Bank’s cut to the official cash rate and APRA’s recent decision to revise loan serviceability benchmarks will soon feed into confidence among homebuyers.

 

“Likewise, the settled debate over the future of negative gearing has the potential to draw people back into the market.

 

“These need to be matched with delivery on commitments to help close the deposit gap for homebuyers and designing the scheme in a way that broadens access and removes barriers to participation.

 

“The states also need to play a role in stripping back excessive taxes and charges, red tape and complex planning regimes that suppress investment and stall projects.”

 

UDIA recognises that it will require the Commonwealth, State and Local Governments to work together to remove the impediments to housing supply and affordability: 

  • firstly by reforming the current planning system inefficiencies,

  • secondly by reducing excessive taxes on houses and 

  • thirdly reducing red and green tape, all of which act as costly handbrakes to the delivery of new housing.

 

Further details of UDIA’s policy priorities can be viewed at http://www.udia.com.au/policy-centre

Media Contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107

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FURTHER STATEMENT ON THE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

18 July 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has welcomed the prospect of national consensus on solutions needed to tackle the crisis facing the building and construction industry.

 

UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk said the potential framework arising from today’s meeting of the Building Ministers Forum would empower the Australian Building Codes Board.

 

“Building ministers have taken a sensible first step to calm the situation and avoid a reckoning in the residential construction market that had potential to dent confidence and economic activity,” says Ms Kirk.

 

“We now have a platform in place that reduces the risk of a patchwork response and better allows consistent implementation of the Shergold-Weir recommendations.

 

“There is still a lot of work to do, and we’d encourage every tier of government to work to an accelerated timetable in pursuing these vital reforms.

 

“Resolution of issues clouding the regulatory environment will be critical to rebuilding the insurance market for building professionals that was on the verge of collapse.”

 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107.

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STATEMENT ON THE BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

15 July 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has urged the Commonwealth Government to help break the impasse on reforms needed to tackle the crisis facing the building and construction industry.

 

UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk said risks around a collapse of the insurance market for building professionals and concerns around consumer confidence needed to be resolved.

 

“There is going to be a reckoning in the residential construction market without action on reforms needed to sustain confidence and activity across the supply chain,” says Ms Kirk.

 

“Building industry consultants are in danger of being stranded without full professional indemnity insurance – with building surveyors at the tip of the spear.

 

“We understand it is ultimately states and territories that have responsibility for legislating and regulatory building and construction standards.

 

“However, the prospect of a patchwork response is real, as we’ve seen an inconsistency across the states in the pace and scope of movement in response to the essential elements of the Shergold-Weir Report.

                                                                                              

“The Morrison Government was re-elected with an agenda that gives hope to the housing industry – retention of negative gearing, reduced red tape, work to close the deposit gap and better housing market analysis.

 

“Matched with the prospect of sustained lower interest rates and more realistic loan serviceability requirements for the banks, the potential for an upswing in investments, jobs and new housing is real.

 

“We hope the Commonwealth appreciates those gains could be undermined by the challenges facing the building and construction industry.

 

“Playing a leadership role in resolving issues around the insurance market for building professionals and the need to drive outcomes that will restore consumer confidence in building standards makes sense.”

.

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107.

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SOFT LENDING DATA CONFIRMS THE CASE TO REV UP REFORMS

12 July 2019

New data that shows household lending remains soft, makes the case for embedded reforms that can boost housing markets and reignite confidence among homebuyers according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures on new lending to households showed mortgage lending fell 1.3 percent in May 2019, in seasonally adjusted terms.

 

“The timing of the election cast a long, dark shadow over lending decisions in May,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“We now have the comfort of seeing interest rates cut, more sensible lending rules applied by APRA and certainty over the retention of negative gearing and capital gains tax arrangements.

 

“They open the door to a turnaround in housing markets and a rebound in lending, building approvals and sales volumes.

 

“All three key indicators, however, remain well back from the peak of two or three years ago and will take time to feed into investment, construction and jobs that can boost economic growth.

 

“The construction pipeline is particularly thin, so we need to match the actions of regulators with good policy from government.

 

“Efforts to help close the deposit gap and a pending review of environmental laws are positives, but they will need to be delivered in a way that results in meaningful benefits to homebuyers and developers.

 

“We also need to see the states act on inefficiencies and blockages in planning systems, as well as excessive developer taxes and charges that get baked into the price paid by homebuyers,” says Connie Kirk.

 

UDIA’s National Policy Priorities 2019 ‘Building a Better Australia’ outlines further recommendations for improving housing supply and ownership through an expanded mandate for the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation, with the aim of reforming taxes and charges on new housing. The National Policy Priorities can be accessed at www.udiapriorities.com.au

 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107.

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CHANGES TO HOME LOAN ASSESSMENT RULES WELCOMED

5 July 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has welcomed new rules that will change how lenders assess the ability of borrowers to service a housing loan.

 

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) today confirmed banks will be able to set their own minimum interest floor rate for serviceability assessments – instead setting a minimum 2.5 percent buffer.

 

UDIA National’s submission to APRA endorsed giving banks flexibility to set their own floor rates – though recommended a lower buffer of 2 percent, given there is scant history of rapid rate rises outside the range.

 

“The switch makes sense given we’re now in an era of unprecedented low interest rates,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“APRA is right to recognise the old benchmark of seven percent did not reflect changes in housing markets and interest rates since it was set – leading to a squeeze on credit and stifling of residential property markets. 

 

“Housing markets need a boost in the face of fragile consumer confidence, decreased lending, softening prices and falling building approvals.

 

“The new serviceability requirements are sensible and can work in tandem with lower interest rates and policy initiatives being pursued by the Federal Government to trigger a recovery in housing markets.

 

“The changes should help more people access the credit they need to buy residential property and set the foundation for a more stable and sustainable housing market.

 

“Housing construction will be a central pillar to a broader economic lift given the investment, jobs, wages and growth it provides.”

 

UDIA strongly advocated for these proposed changes in order to address housing affordability, which is a core policy aspect of UDIA National Priorities Policy. For a copy of UDIA’s submission visit http://www.udia.com.au/reports-and-submissions/reports-and-submissions-2019 and for further information on the National Priorities Policy visit https://www.udiapriorities.com.au/priorities.

 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107.

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WEAK BUILDING APPROVAL FIGURES SHOW NEED TO DRIVE REFORM

3 July 2019

Weak building approval figures released today highlight a continued need for policy reforms to drive economic growth and that interest rate cuts alone will be insufficient to boost growth, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia.

 

Data released by the Australia Bureau of Statistics today shows building approvals fell by 0.5 percent in May – with the decline driven by a fall in private sector housing approvals, which are down by 1.3 percent in trend terms.

 

The seasonally adjusted number showing a 0.7 percent increase in total dwelling approvals should be viewed with caution, given it was almost exclusively driven by a 14.4 percent increase in one state, Victoria.

 

“The weak building approval data underlines a continued fragility in a core pillar of our economy,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“The downward trajectory has been the same for the past year and beyond. Approvals are down 19.6 percent in the past year and detached dwelling approvals remain close to a six-year low.

 

“Housing construction propels investment, jobs, wages and economic growth – the exact formula that the Reserve Bank said it was seeking when it cut the cash rate to one percent yesterday.

 

“There is a clear need to step beyond a dependence on interest rates and ensure all policy levers are being exercised in the interests of confidence, certainty and growth,” she says.

 

“The Reserve Bank’s actions – coupled with APRA’s recent decision to revise loan serviceability benchmarks – will hopefully begin to free credit for homebuyers.

 

“We have also witnessed gains with retention of negative gearing, the pending introduction of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and downsizer measures boosting retirement incomes and housing supply.

 

“There is a clear case however for seizing every opportunity to reduce the barriers to housing construction.

 

“The endless layering of taxes and charges, red tape and complex planning regimes act as a brake on projects that has added to the downturn and forced proponents of housing projects to ensure seven to 10-year timelines to gain relevant approvals to commence development.

 

“We hope these issues capture the attention of the Federal Government as it moves to target the regulatory barriers to assistance, including green and red tape,” says Connie Kirk.
 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

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AUSTRALIA’S HOUSING MARKET CAN’T BECOME COLLATERAL IN TRADE TENSIONS

29 June 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has expressed reservation that Australia’s housing market risks being an unintended victim of the escalating trade tensions between the United States and China.

 

Rhetoric emerging from the G20 Summit in Japan suggests that China’s interest in investing in Western economies may subside.

 

“Trade tensions reduce consumer confidence and inhibit the global flow of capital that underpins our domestic economic growth,” says UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk.

 

“China’s propensity for Western investment feeds into our prosperity, including the state of residential housing markets.  

 

“China has served as a strong source of investment in both the direct financing of new developments, as well as purchasers of new properties that deliver pre-sales needed to get projects off the ground.

 

“China’s investment in real estate approvals in Australia currently stands at $12.7 billion, around 30% of the total share of approvals and the largest of any individual nation. This however is in sharp contrast to two years ago when approvals topped $31.9 billion.

 

“Approvals from the United States stand at $5.8 billion, placing the United States third, so any trade tensions between two of our top three sources of foreign direct investment into real estate will leave Australia worse off.”

 

The Foreign Investment Review Board has noted a $17.5 billion decline in the value of residential real estate approvals during the past year. Reasons suggested include state taxes and foreign resident stamp duty increases, foreign investment application fees and increased restrictions on capital transfers in home countries as some of the factors dampening foreign demand.

 

“As part of the 2017-18 Budget a 50% limit on the number of dwellings in a development that can be sold to foreign persons was introduced which reduced the value of new dwelling exemption certificates (NDECs). The recent fall in overall residential real estate approvals can be attributed to a reduction in new dwelling approvals, which in turn is attributable to a drop in approvals for NDECs.

 

“With falling house prices in Sydney and Melbourne - which also happen to be the primary locations for foreign investment in recent years - approvals to build new dwellings have also fallen, especially in the apartment sector which is typically favored by foreign buyers.

 

“UDIA advocates for the re-assessment of the impacts of taxation policy currently imposed on foreign buyers. UDIA’s National Policy Priorities 2019 “Building a Better Australia” outlines further recommendations for increasing housing supply and reforming taxes and charges on new housing.”

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

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NEW DATA REINFORCES NEED FOR NATIONAL POPULATION PLAN

20 June 2019

The case for a National Strategic Population Plan has been reinforced by release of new data showing Australia’s population continuing to increase and growth consolidated in our largest states, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).

 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data released today shows Australia’s population now sits at 25.2 million people – an increase of 1.6 percent in 2018.

 

UDIA National has consistently sought a National Strategic Population Plan that forecasts population settlement patterns and the demand for housing, infrastructure and services.

 

“Australia’s population will keep growing and we need to get ahead of the task of understanding the implications,” says UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk.

 

“A clear national plan that includes rolling short and long-term forecasts, maps settlement patterns and informs land use, housing, infrastructure and service delivery is essential.

 

“The Commonwealth Government’s proposal for a Centre for Population can help drive more informed policy making and decisions around land use and infrastructure planning.”

 

UDIA National believes the mandate for the new Centre should include:
 

  • Establishing one, three and five-year population forecasts that are updated on an annual basis
     

  • Better mapping the interaction between Government’s visa program, settlement patterns and workforce requirements
     

  • Collaborating with the States and Territories to ensure the geographic spread of population is devised in partnership
     

  • Using the population forecasts to inform strategic land use and infrastructure plans, as well as service delivery and environmental outcomes
     

  • Opening a dialogue with the community on the economic and social benefits of population growth. 
     

“Population policy has rarely been done well in Australia but there is increasing consensus around the case for better data, analysis and policy making,” says Ms Kirk.
 

“We can use the opportunity to open a stronger dialogue with the community around the trajectory and consequences of change that can create stronger, more prosperous cities and regions.”
 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

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NSW BUDGET 2019 - UDIA APPLAUDS NSW AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT COLLABORATION ON KEY INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS

20 June 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has welcomed the first Budget of the returned NSW Coalition Government, as it signals on ongoing commitment to collaboration with the Federal Government in relation to key infrastructure projects.

 

This collaboration will ultimately improve the liveability of Australia’s most populous state and is something UDIA has been advocating through its policy recommendations.

 

“Earlier this week we launched our post Federal election action plan, Building A Better Australia,which outlines six policy priorities across population, cities, infrastructure, housing, tax and regulation,” says Connie Kirk, UDIA National Executive Director.

 

“One of our key recommendations is the establishment of a Bi-PartisanInfrastructure Accord, to deliver long term certainty in planning and delivery. An Accord will elevate designated critical projects above the political fray and election cycles, ensuring that critical infrastructure can be delivered.” 

 

Key projects for State and Federal collaboration highlighted in the 2019 NSW Budget include more than $2 billion in the next four years for the planning and preconstruction of the North South Metro Rail Link to Western Sydney Airport from St Marys and $1.5 billion over four years to continue the Pacific Highway upgrade program.

 

“The Federal Government is contributing $6.3 billion to NSW’s capital program over four years to 30 June 2023. It has also previously publicly committedto contributing $3 billion for Sydney Metro West, which will link Parramatta to the CBD,” says Connie Kirk.

 

“These projects will help create jobs, encourage economic growth and aredesigned to make communities more liveable today, while building infrastructure that’s needed now and into the future.

 

“We look forward to seeing an ongoing collaboration between the Federal and NSW Governments to ensure the timely delivery of much needed infrastructure for the benefit of those living in Sydney and across the entire state,” says Connie Kirk.

 

“We also look forward to offering our support and expertise in relation to these important matters affecting our future and point to our six policy recommendations in our plan Building a Better Australia.” 

 

A full copy of Building A Better Australia is available at www.udiacampaign.com.au
 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

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UDIA UNVEILS SIX-POINT ACTION PLAN FOR COMMONWEALTH GOVERNMENT

18 June 2019

Swift action by the Commonwealth Government on a suite of policy initiatives can position Australia’s cities, economy and housing markets for sustained prosperity, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).
 

UDIA National has today released a post-election action plan entitled Building A Better Australia that outlines six policy priorities across population, cities, infrastructure, housing, tax and regulation.
 

UDIA National Executive Director Connie Kirk says the plan presents a blueprint for policy priorities that can enhance the global competitiveness of Australian cities.
 

“There is clear goodwill towards a government re-elected through the prism of its pro-growth and aspirational agenda,” says Ms Kirk.
 

“The optimism they are generating is giving hope to everyone interested in a robust economy and recovery in housing construction, which are directly linked.
 

“We are also witnessing improved access to housing finance, courtesy of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) intention to ease interest rate loan assessment levels for Banks and the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and policies like the promised scheme to close the deposit gap.
 

“There is now a real window in which we can seize the momentum and press on with policies that will boost the productivity, liveability and affordability of our cities.”  
 

The six-point plan promotes six ideas to cement the benefits of reform:
 

  • Entrench the emerging new policy framework to get population settings right

  • Create a Bi-Partisan Infrastructure Accord to deliver long term certainty in planning and delivery

  • Audit the current infrastructure pipelineto assess opportunities for better alignment of infrastructure planning and land release 

  • Properly design and fund the new mandate on housing supply, demand and affordability

  • Identify short, medium and long-term steps to reform and strip back taxes on new housing

  • Commence a review of environmental planning practices.
     

Ms Kirk says UDIA National will be moving quickly to engage with the re-elected Government, as well as the Opposition, to promote the policy platform. 

 

UDIA National has already commenced initial briefings with the Government – having already met the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, The Hon Alan Tudge MP, last week.

 

“The priorities we’re promoting have a dual benefit – giving a kickstart to housing construction in the short-term, as well as entrenching ideas that have a long-term, linked and lasting dividend.

 

“Population policy and analysis can inform the choices we make about the design and infrastructure of our cities, as well as long-term land use strategies to deliver housing supply and diversity.

 

“We also need to recognise that reforms to the taxation and regulatory burdens placed on housing construction take time to entrench, so triggering the start of changes now makes sense,” says Connie Kirk.
 

A full copy of Building A Better Australia is available via the UDIA website: 
http://www.udia.com.au/news/national-policy-priorities

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

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RBA RATE CUT TO HELP SPUR HOUSING RECOVERY

4 June 2019

The Reserve Bank of Australia’s decision to cut official interest rates will act as a welcome spur to improve lending, lift consumer confidence and get the housing market moving again, according to the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA).
 

“The rate cut represents the latest act in a suite of proactive measures to improve access to credit and re-energise economic activity,” UDIA National President Darren Cooper said.
 

“Coupled with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA) recent decision to ease serviceability benchmarks and the Australian Government’s future endeavours to close the deposit gap, we’ve now got an agenda firmly geared towards growth.
 

“Housing construction has been on the slide for more than a year and Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data shows approvals for detached dwellings now sit at a six-year low.
 

“Housing construction is crucial to Australia’s broader economic and employment fortunes – and without an improvement in sales activity and an impetus for new projects to commence and existing projects to expand, the gap between supply and demand will quickly feed into increased prices once again.
 

“The rate cut should send a welcome signal to the market, lower the cost of finance for homebuyers and see more projects move from concept to construction.
 

“UDIA urges all banks to act responsibly and immediately pass on the cut in full to give effect to the RBA’s aspirations for a more vibrant economy.”

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

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UDIA CONGRATULATES LABOR’S SHADOW CABINET AND MINISTRY

3 June 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has congratulated the Leader of the Opposition, The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, on his selection of a strong Shadow Cabinet and Ministry, which includes both experienced and fresh talent.

 

“It’s pleasing to see a strong mix of seasoned performers and rising new-comers appointed by Mr Albanese,” UDIA National President Darren Cooper says.

 

“The Shadow Cabinet and Ministry will no doubt prove to be a worthy Opposition to help keep the Government focused on issues that matter to all Australians, including the cost of living, housing affordability and socially responsible urban development.

 

“Mr Albanese has demonstrated his interest and commitment to housing affordability and infrastructure during his time in office, so we’re particularly pleased to have him as Labor’s Leader and look forward to working closely with him on these important national issues,” he says.

 

“We look forward to working closely with his entire Shadow Cabinet and Ministry team, in particular The Hon Catherine King MP, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, The Hon Jason Clare MP, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government and Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Andrew Giles MP, Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure and Terri Butler MP, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water.

 

“UDIA is especially pleased that Mr Albanese has recognised the importance of socially cohesive infrastructure development with the specific appointment of a Shadow Minister for Cities and an associated portfolio.

 

“There’s a lot to focus on and many policies to achieve if we are to preserve our enviable lifestyle and protect Australia’s future prosperity. That means working hard on infrastructure planning and delivery, housing affordability and the creation of more liveable cities,” says Darren Cooper.

 

UDIA looks forward to offering its industry knowledge and expertise to both the Government and Opposition to achieve these goals. UDIA will continue to advocate on these issues to ensure their urgency and importance are understood by all Members of the Australian Parliament.

 

In constructive consultation, UDIA will advocate on its six pillar policy platform outlined in its National Policy Priorities 2019 “Building a Better Australia” available at http://www.udia.com.au/policy-centre

 
 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107.

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ENDORSEMENT OF ANTHONY ALBANESE IS WELCOME NEWS SAYS UDIA

29 May 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) says the endorsement of The Hon Anthony Albanese MP as the Leader of the Australian Labor Party is welcome news.

 

“Over the years, Anthony Albanese has demonstrated his passion and commitment to housing affordability and infrastructure, so it’s great to have him as the new Leader of the Opposition to help keep Australia focused on these important issues,” says UDIA National President Darren Cooper.

 

“We congratulate him on securing this important role and look forward to continuing our already positive relationship with him, advocating for issues that matter to the future liveability of Australian cities and neighbourhoods.”

 

UDIA is particularly keen to leverage Labor’s pre-election commitment to set up an Infrastructure Accord with the Coalition, if they were successful in winning Government. 

 

“We will be re-iterating Labor’s endorsement of an Infrastructure Accord, so that wecan continue to move forward with a vital and connected infrastructure plan for our nation, without allowing investment programs to be side-tracked by partisan politics,” says Darren Cooper.

 

UDIA says an Infrastructure Accord, would see major parties agreeing to permanently insulate the identification, funding and delivery of significant infrastructure from the short-term political cycle, allowing an urgently needed long-term approach to infrastructure planning to prevail.

 

“We’ve been advocating for an Infrastructure Accord for some time now. All parties must commit to delivery over the opportunity for political point scoring, agree on the long-term infrastructure pipeline and the mechanisms for delivery. 

 

“We look forward to working closely with the Government and the Opposition in relation to infrastructure and affordable housing and offer our insights on these important matters,” he says.


 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

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NEW MORRISON MINISTRY IS GREAT NEWS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND HOUSING

28 May 2019

Following Sunday’s announcement about the new Morrison Ministry, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) congratulates the Prime Minister, The Hon Scott Morrison MP on his appointment of such a strong mix of experienced performers.

 

In particular, UDIA has pointed to the elevation of the important Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure portfolioto Cabinet, as an excellent outcome for the future of our nation.

 

“We’re excited that this portfolio has been given the Cabinet status that it deserves. It is critical for the continued prosperity of the nation that key infrastructure planning is co-ordinated, aligned and synchronized with required urban expansion, housing development and population growth needs,” says UDIA National President Darren Cooper.

 

“We look forward to supporting The Hon Alan Tudge MP in his role as Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure.”

 

Similarly, UDIA congratulates Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Michael McCormack MP on his role as Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and The Hon Michael Sukkar MP on his appointment as Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing.

 

“With their focus on infrastructure and housing, these two portfolios are also crucial for the future prosperity of Australia and ensuring that our lifestyle remains the envy of the world. UDIA will continue to work closely with the Ministry in their delivery of the Government’s planned record $100 billion worth of much-needed infrastructure over the next decade,” says Darren Cooper.

 

“We also look forward to seeing the Minister for Housing roll out the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, which will help up to 10,000 first home buyers each year, get into the market faster.

 

“Whilst the proposed Scheme has conditions and parameters, we encourage the Government to further expand the income eligibility criteria, to make it available to an even larger cohort of potential buyers,” he says. 

 

“We also urge the Government to further help unlock housing credit to enable new home ownership by also supportingAustralian Prudential Regulation Authority’s (APRA)initiative to revise how lenders assess the ability of borrowers to service a housing loan.” 

 

UDIA says APRA’s proposal to enable banks to set their own serviceability benchmarks for their residential mortgage customers, and manage their own business, would give more people the potential to access credit to purchase and move into their own home.


 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

MOVES TO CHANGE HOW HOME LOANS ARE ASSESSED IS WELCOME NEWS

21 May 2019

The Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) has welcomed APRA’s announcement

that it is looking to change how lenders assess the ability of borrowers to service a housing

loan.
 

“This is something we’ve been calling for – even as recently as yesterday – and it’s great news,”

says UDIA National President, Darren Cooper.
 

“The current benchmark of 7% has made credit really hard to come by and it has been stifling

the residential property market. While this benchmark may have been appropriate when it was

introduced in 2014, it is no longer the case,” he says.
 

“Since then, we’ve had ongoing historically-low interest rates and there’s also the potential for

the cash rate to fall even further.
 

“For those reasons, APRA’s current serviceability assessment rate is too high. There’s no

reason for such a big buffer for the banks,” he says.
 

UDIA says the opportunity for banks to set their own serviceability benchmarks for their

residential mortgage customers, and manage their own business, is a great move by APRA.
 

“This change will help more people get access to credit and buy residential property. It will also

help stabilise property prices around the country after the uncertainty leading into the Federal

election - and the UDIA is all for it.”
 

The UDIA says it encourages APRA to implement these changes as swiftly as possible after its

four-week consultation with the banks and will be writing to APRA to lend its full support to the

proposed changes.


 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107.

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

UDIA CONGRATULATES THE PRIME MINISTER AND HIS TEAM - UNLOCKING HOUSING CREDIT AND MORE LIVEABLE CITIES MUST BE GOVERNMENT'S TOP PRIORITIES

20 May 2019

Following the weekend’s election result, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) congratulates the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP and his team on their historic victory and urges the Government to ensure that measures to enable home ownership and national infrastructure remain firmly in focus.

 

“UDIA applauds the Government’s commitment to housing affordability and creating more liveable cities through its record $100 billion commitment to infrastructure over the next decade, as well as initiatives such as the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme,” says UDIA National President Darren Cooper. 

 

“This scheme will provide a pathway for 10,000 people to be able to buy their first home. However, the real key now to enabling new home ownership, is for the Government to unlock housing credit.  

 

“It can best do this by encouraging APRA to reduce its interest rate servicing benchmark rate, that the banks must use to assess home loan applications,” Mr Cooper says. 

 

“The current assessment rate of 7% is unrealistic in the current interest rate environment, and by reducing peoples’ borrowing capacity it’s locking thousands out of buying their first home, or upgrading or down-sizing from their current home.  

 

“Even a benchmark rate of 5.5% would provide a prudent buffer over current rates, and would get home lending and therefore housing markets moving again,” he says.

 

“We also continue to advocate for an Infrastructure Accord, so that we can continue to move forward with a vital and connected infrastructure plan for our nation, without allowing investment programs to be sidetracked by bi-partisan politics.”
 

Media contact: Christina Efthymiades 0417 207 107. 

Download a PDF copy of this media release.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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