MAYORS have accused the federal government of ”old-fashioned council bashing” in blaming local planning laws for the housing affordability crisis.The Australian Local Government Association says the problem lies with the federal government’s failure to provide jobs and infrastructure in outer suburban and regional areas to attract new home buyers.The association’s State of the Regions report, publised today, says the rise in property prices relative to incomes has been caused by a centralisation of jobs in big cities, and by the easy availability of credit.”Lack of attention to the job-accessibility aspects of housing contributed to the inability of households to pay the rising costs of construction, which in turn reflected poor macroeconomic management,” the report says.The association president, the City of Monash councillor Geoff Lake, said the group was disappointed that whenever the government and developers spoke about action on affordable housing it focused on tackling council planning processes.”It is unfortunate that they choose a bit of old-fashioned council bashing rather than address the real macroeconomic policy settings which have most impact on the cost of housing,” he told the Herald.Through the Council of Australian Governments, the federal, state and territory treasurers are inquiring into the effect of planning processes on housing prices, but Cr Lake argued that the inquiry should focus on demand issues instead.In linking the federal government to the easy availability of credit, which contributed to a surge in house prices, the report argues that policies such as the first home owners grant was not matched with an increase in the size of deposit required by lenders.The report cites figures showing that if the average household size had stayed as it was in 2001, then the current housing shortage was 382,000 dwellings nationally, including 108,000 in NSW and 75,000 in Victoria.The association’s national general assembly is being held in Canberra and concludes tomorrow.Opinion – Page 15
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